FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis

The Trump administration is sounding the alarm against vaping products as health officials scramble to determine why some consumers are suddenly becoming sick from them.

But while the administration’s pending bans on flavored e-cigarettes will no doubt influence the legal nicotine marketplace, they will have virtually no impact on the counterfeit cannabis vaping products associated with the recent outbreak of serious lung illnesses.

Why? Because nicotine is a federally regulated product, and several licensed large-scale corporations operate in this space. They’ll have little choice but to abide by the FDA’s new rules and restrictions. But we have virtually no idea who makes those unregulated cannabis oils, so they can continue business as usual.

This gray market exists because cannabis and cannabis-derived products remain almost entirely prohibited under federal law — which classifies the plant in the same category as heroin and LSD. This federal prohibition has made it difficult to clinically study the safety of these cannabis-oil delivery devices and all but impossible to regulate them.

As a result, while the feds can certainly arrest people involved in these rapidly growing markets, the FDA is powerless to provide regulatory standards, oversight, or quality control.

Instead, this heavy burden falls on state regulators that have legalized cannabis use. But these regulations are not consistent from state to state, and far from comprehensive. Often they’re unable to keep up with rapid changes in the industry’s manufacturing practices.

For instance, New York State officials have suggested that many of those sickened in their state became ill from inhaling vitamin E oil, which was added to unregulated vaping fluids as a thickening agent.

But until this latest outbreak, regulators had never tested products for the presence of vitamin E. And according to many experts, underground players only began adding these contaminants in the past few months.

While state regulators can and should do their part, the burden of establishing industry standards and regulatory oversight ought to fall on the FDA — the very same agency that, under marijuana prohibition, is forced to take a “hands off” approach.

Plainly these wildly popular products need to be better regulated at the federal level. And that means that cannabis need to be legalized.

Without legalization, consumers of these cannabis-oil vape products aren’t going to know whether they’re getting a safe, tested product or some unlicensed knock-off. Similar issues have plagued the commercial CBD market for years now, as the lack of a federal regulatory framework has led to CBD-infused extracts and oil products of variable quality, purity, and safety flooding the market.

Rather than use these unfortunate incidents to further drive these markets into the shadows, the administration should officially legalize cannabis at the federal level — and empower the FDA to study, regulate, and oversee these emerging THC and CBD delivery devices.

The irony is that, because of decades of prohibition, the agency is only now beginning to scrutinize these cartridges and the questionable compounds, additives, and agents in them. Had cannabis been legalized years ago, they would have done so much sooner.

And Americans would be safer because of it.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
January 24, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
A Letter From Iowa
Jim Kavanagh
Aftermath: The Iran War After the Soleimani Assassination
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Camp by the Lake
Chuck Churchill
The Long History of Elite Rule: What Will It Take To End It?
Robert Hunziker
A Climate Time Bomb With Trump’s Name Inscribed
Andrew Levine
Trump: The King
Jess Franklin
Globalizing the War on Indigenous People: Bolsonaro and Modi
James Graham
From Paris, With Tear Gas…
Rob Urie
Why the Primaries Matter
Dan Bacher
Will the Extinction of Delta Smelt Be Governor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Legacy?
Ramzy Baroud
In the Name of “Israel’s Security”: Retreating US Gives Israel Billions More in Military Funding
Vijay Prashad
What the Right Wing in Latin America Means by Democracy Is Violence
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Biden’s Shameful Foreign Policy Record Extends Well Beyond Iraq
Louis Proyect
Isabel dos Santos and Africa’s Lumpen-Bourgeoisie
Nick Pemberton
AK-46: The Case Against Amy Klobuchar
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Promtheus’ Fire: Climate Change in the Time of Willful Ignorance
Linn Washington Jr.
Waiting for Justice in New Jersey
Ralph Nader
Pelosi’s Choice: Enough for Trump’s Impeachment but not going All Out for Removal
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Don’t Kill 72 Grizzly Bears So Cattle Can Graze on Public Lands
Joseph Natoli
Who’s Speaking?
Kavaljit Singh
The US-China Trade Deal is Mostly Symbolic
Cesar Chelala
The Coronavirus Serious Public Health Threat in China
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Must Remain Vigilant and on Guard Against US Hybrid Warfare
Robert Fantina
Impeachment as a Distraction
Courtney Bourgoin
What We Lose When We Lose Wildlife
Mark Ashwill
Why Constructive Criticism of the US is Not Anti-American
Daniel Warner
Charlie Chaplin and Truly Modern Times
Manuel Perez-Rocha
How NAFTA 2.0 Boosts Fossil Fuel Polluters, Particularly in Mexico
Dean Baker
What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace With Productivity
Mel Gurtov
India’s Failed Democracy
Thomas Knapp
US v. Sineneng-Smith: Does Immigration Law Trump Free Speech?
Winslow Myers
Turning Point: The new documentary “Coup 53”
Jeff Mackler
U.S. vs. Iran: Which Side are You On?
Sam Pizzigati
Braggadocio in the White House, Carcinogens in Our Neighborhoods
Christopher Brauchli
The Company Trump Keeps
Julian Vigo
Why Student Debt is a Human Rights Issue
Ramzy Baroud
These Chains Will Be Broken
Chris Wright
A Modest Proposal for Socialist Revolution
Thomas Barker
The Slow Death of European Social Democracy: How Corbynism Bucked the Trend
Nicky Reid
It’s Time to Bring the War Home Again
Michelle Valadez
Amy Klobuchar isn’t Green
David Swanson
CNN Poll: Sanders Is The Most Electable
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Dire Need for “Creative Extremists”—MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Jill Richardson
‘Little Women’ and the American Attitude Toward Poverty
David Yearsley
Watching Star Wars in Berlin
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail