Grow, Gift, Repair

Vape ban update

Baker has said the ban was necessary to protect the public while federal authorities investigated the cause of the outbreak. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the illness is largely linked to marijuana oil cartridges purchased on the illicit market, and on Nov. 8 identified a main culprit as vitamin E acetate, a honey-like chemical used as an additive.

But some of those sickened reported vaping only nicotine, complicating the investigation. In Massachusetts, officials say three people have died — two who vaped only nicotine and one who vaped nicotine and marijuana products.

Nationwide, more than 2,200 people have fallen ill and at least 47 people have died. About a third of patients reported vaping only cannabis products, while many vaped nicotine and marijuana. A smaller percentage — 13 percent — said they used nicotine vapes only.
The cannabis control commissioners, in their testimony Friday, requested the health officials share any information on the source of vaping products that made people sick in Massachusetts. They particularly wanted to learn whether any illnesses were linked to regulated cannabis retailers. After a judge ruled the commission should decide whether to lift the ban on medical marijuana vapes, the commission requested the information from the Department of Public Health earlier this month but hasn’t received it. Currently, the products are quarantined.

“Like you, we are concerned about the health of medical marijuana patients and the risk of inadvertently causing more people to obtain THC vape products from informal sources, which at a national level are linked to the majority of cases,” said Steven Hoffman, the commission chairman. “We share the same urgency in minimizing these risks and responding with appropriate regulations as quickly and safely as possible.”

Commissioner Shaleen Title echoed Hoffman’s pleas, adding, “Knowing whether any of the people who became sick or died used a regulated THC vape product will not only inform our regulations, but also allow us to inform patients and consumers who may have purchased the same product and may be using those products today.”

Ann Scales, a DPH spokeswoman, said the department has asked patients where they bought their vaping products, including whether they came from a vape shop, a friend or acquaintance, a licensed marijuana store, or online. She said the department was listening to all comments and would review them but would not respond to them Friday.
Also, many consumers at the hearing said the ban had not kept them from vaping, as they just drove to nearby states or found online sellers.