Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a ban on flavored tobacco products in L.A County. This ban includes flavored vaping products and menthol cigarettes. Retailers have six months to take flavored products off their shelves and online sales of flavored tobacco products will also be banned.
Although the ban makes no mention of cannabis products, advocates are using the momentum from Tuesday night’s meeting to call for an all-out ban on vaping products. Vapes, like the popular Juul or NJOY, have become mainstays in many dispensaries. Many dispensaries sell THC or CBD-filled e-liquid or vape cartridges as refills for vape pens or other electronic smoking devices.
The push to ban combustible smoking devices, such as vapes and e-cigarettes, came from a Center for Disease Control (CDC) report on lung injury cases associated with using e-cigarettes which have been reported in 48 states and 1 U.S. territory and have resulted in 15 reported deaths. The FDA has been cautioning users against impure vape cartridges and e-cigarettes for ten years noting that toxic compounds that are linked to cancer have been detected in many products.
Most of the cases have been reported in young men, with a median age of 19, who have a history of vaping tobacco and cannabis products. Symptoms of Vaping-Associated Pulmonary Injury (VAPI) include coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath and even lipoid pneumonia, in which fat particles enter the lungs. The CDC has not yet identified a single chemical component responsible for VAPI but cautions people, especially those under 18, to refrain from smoking any e-cigarettes or vapes. Recently President Donald Trump drew attention to the harmful effects of vaping in a September press conference.
How does this legislation impact the cannabis industry? At the moment there is no legislation planned that targets the cannabis industry. According to a report cited in Los Angeles Magazine, marijuana vape products sold in California have not been linked to cases of VAPI but cautions the same cannot be said for marijuana vape products sold on the black market. Studies suggest that the cannabis black market in California still surpasses sales of regulated cannabis. Black market vapes and e-cigarette products have been found to contain lung irritants including acetals and formaldehyde.
While some counties contemplate all-out tobacco bans, there is currently no discussion about prohibiting cannabis smoking or vaping but it seems probable that the availability of vapes and e-smoking products will decrease. Last week, Juul announced it will stop advertising in the U.S> and “refraining from lobbying the administration on its draft guidance.” It will also halt sales but tobacco-flavored products will still be sold. Following that logic, unflavored cannabis vapes will still be legal for adult-use in California.