New product liability concerns have cropped up since regulators announced that California marijuana vape pens seized from illegal shops in Los Angeles were laced with hazardous additives. USA Today reports the ingredients included a substance that has been associated with a fatal, vape-related lung illness.
State officials with the California Bureau of Cannabis Control reportedly confiscated an estimated 10,000 vaping cartridges from unlicensed retailers of marijuana in a series of raids last month. The test results of those products is just now being completed, and authorities report 75 percent of those cartridges contained chemicals that were not disclosed to consumers or regulators. One of those was the vitamin E acetate, the agent used for thickening the compound that has been cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an estimated 60 deaths and 2,600 illnesses in all 50 states.
If anything, our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers see this as a warning to consumers to limit their purchase of marijuana products to licensed retailers. Black market marijuana products may be cheaper, but the potential cost to one’s health seems hardly worth the risk. As the CBCC pointed out in a recent release, retailers that have been licensed are required to submit their products to extensive laboratory testing to ensure they meet state labeling and consumer safety standards.
The CDC had previously reported that nearly 80 percent of those who developed vape-related lung illnesses had purchased their products from informal sources, such as online dealers or unlicensed shops. Another 16 percent reported purchases from licensed commercial pot shops while the remainder had purchased from a mix of both. Here in California, no vaping illnesses or deaths were associated with legal marijuana.
Not only were the products confiscated reportedly laced with dangerous chemical elements, the cannabis content was also decidedly less potent.
Illegal dispensaries outnumber legal ones by 2-to-1 in California, noted the Wall Street Journal.
Although the CDC’s investigation analyzed reported illnesses from both marijuana vape and nicotine vape tobacco products, the greater danger appeared to exist with THC vape cartridges sold on the black market.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has announced it is taking steps to ban flavored e-cigarettes, which may be attractive to children and teenagers. The new rule and its enforcement is expected to go into effect next month. Enforcement action is expected to be particularly aggressive against any seller that openly advertises to youth.
Meanwhile, public health researchers have emphasized that licensed marijuana retailers shouldn’t be blamed or punished for the misdeeds of black market operators. Like all legal cannabis products sold in California, marijuana vape pens and cartridges are required to undergo rigorous, third-party testing. Some in the industry have complained about the costs associated with this testing, especially when coupled with the extensive taxes. However, it does provide an extra layer of assurance to consumers – and legal protection for marijuana companies making a good faith effort to ensure their products are safe for consumption.
Many in California’s legal marijuana market responded to the vape crisis with calls for improved regulation of these products.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, ancillary companies, patients, doctors and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
Confiscated California vape pens contained dangerous additives, regulators say, Jan. 27, 2020, By Kristin Lam, USA Today