THE LONG READ: MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR ISSUES VAPE SALES BAN THROUGH 2019

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signs order amounting to a vape sales ban on all products – nicotine and THC/CBD alike – across the Commonwealth for the next four months.

By now, you’ve probably caught wind of the above news, made after Baker declared a public health emergency as the logic behind the decision. One which is sure to cause serious business issues for the legal cannabis operators already licensed and selling properly made, tested, and tracked products.

“We’re declaring this public health emergency because medical and disease control experts have been tracking the rapidly increasing number of vaping related illnesses that in some cases have led to death,” Baker said at a Statehouse press conference announcing the ban. “We as a commonwealth need to pause sales in order for our medical experts to collect more information about what is driving these life threatening vaping-related illnesses.”

Considering the mountainous regulatory hurdles and the colossal need for capital entrepreneurs and business owners have deftly navigated before even getting off the ground, such a mandate by state government has created a shockwave still being felt across the Bay State’s nascent legal cannabis industry.

And it didn’t take long for everyone from Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) leaders to activists and the legal cannabis business community to rise up and respond.

 

Screenshot via FB from local activist Grant Smith’s page

Cannabis news and information resource Leafly, almost on cue after the vape sales ban was announced, released a deeply researched long read piece of investigative journalism titled: “Journey Of A Tainted Vape Cartridge: From China’s Labs To Your Lungs”.

Anyone with a passing interest in this entire topic should take a minute to read it today.

Image of black market fake vape brand Dank via Leafly

It’s driven by harrowing tales of black market vape purchases that lead to serious injury and health issues for consumers (and thus the misguided vape sales ban), but also gives a broad context on the matter and why the Massachusetts ban on vape products is just as short-sighted and is sure to embolden the black market as the local cannabis community is trumpeting in the aftermath of the news.

Here’s a taste (emphasis ours) of the story that puts Baker’s vape sales ban into proper context:

“At a certain point in this story, Leafly’s investigative team came to a dark realization: Now that we have nationwide surveillance and reporting in place, the CDC’s numbers of the sick and dead aren’t going to stop climbing until everyone in the United States who wants a clean THC vape cart can purchase one in a legal, licensed, and regulated store.

Alcohol prohibition’s end solved bathtub gin poisonings. But we’re still a ways away from the end of cannabis prohibition in the US. In a best case scenario, this VAPI outbreak could spur progress, and not retreat, because the facts are clear:

  • Legal adult access to tested cannabis in the US is already cleaning up the supply chain. Adult-use states have proven far more immune to this outbreak than prohibition states. Of the 530 confirmed and suspected cases, one is potentially linked to a licensed store, in Oregon, and five in Washington.
  • Most state cannabis regulators have recalled problematic products in the past. Over the last 18 months, California has quarantined more than 5,639 licensed cannabis batches for issues including labeling problems (2,379 batches), pesticides (1,585), residual solvents (339), and heavy metals (393). After VAPI news broke, regulators immediately moved to tighten ingredients disclosure requirements in Massachusetts. Oregon regulators told stores to pull suspicious products. Those measures are possible because regulation exists. The street market can’t do that, and won’t.

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