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Thousands of Cannabis Vape Products Are Still Impounded in Massachusetts

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Jul 13, 2020   
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Authorities in Massachusetts are still withholding thousands of confiscated cannabis vape products following “the vaping crisis” of late 2019.

To help decide what to do with the impounded products, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is welcoming input from the public until July 15.

Under quarantine

At the height of the outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injuries (EVALI) last year, Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker declared a public health emergency and a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products was swiftly issued.

By November 12, the CCC issued its Quarantine Order Applying to Vaporizer Products, which required all licensees to quarantine their vaporizer products.

Following an amended quarantine order, newly manufactured legal vape products have been sold in the state since December 12. But those goods quarantined between September 25 and December 12 have remained withheld.

As of April 24, this year, the CCC still held approximately 619,362 vape products in virtual quarantine – thousands of which are classed as cannabis products.

Speaking to Cannabis Dispensary, Ellen Rosenfeld, president of the vertically integrated cannabis company CommCan, said she has 35,000 products in quarantine, which represent a potential of $2.4 million in sales revenue for the company.

Passing the tests

According to the CCC, independent lab analysts have found all tested confiscated products free of vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent commonly used in the illicit vaping market and the chief chemical suspect behind the EVALI outbreak. But that doesn’t mean the goods are all safe to use. Other tests indicated that the cartridges’ heavy metal contents have consistently increased with time.

Further tests will need to be carried out to properly assess whether the products are safe to use. But in the meantime, the CCC has invited suggestions from members of the public on what to do with the confiscated items.

“Continuing to restrict the sale of the quarantined vaping cartridges is a financial burden on licensees and creates a potential risk of diversion,” the CCC wrote in a statement.

“Before making a dispositive decision regarding cannabis vaporizer products subject to quarantine, the Commission invites public comment regarding the question of what, if any, conditions would allow for the retesting and safe sale of vaporizer products that were prohibited for sale or subjected to quarantine between September 25, 2019 and December 12, 2019.”

Responses are welcome until July 15 and can be submitted here.

As of February 18, 2020, over 2,800 hospitalized cases of EVALI have been recorded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spawning all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two US territories: Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Recent research found that cases of EVALI were less common in states with access to legal recreational cannabis, such as Massachusetts.


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