Missouri should ban marijuana vaping products with certain additives, according to a trade association serving the now-legal medicinal market.
In a letter to Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Andrew Mullins, the executive director of the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade), called for the implementation of stringent regulations relating to vaping.
“We concur that the recent reports of pulmonary illnesses and deaths linked to the use of nicotine and cannabis vapor products demand the continued and sustained scrutiny of public health investigators, federal and state regulators, and the legal cannabis industry,” Mullins said.
There were 23 confirmed cases of vaping-related illnesses in Missouri since DHSS began requiring the state’s doctors to report potential instances of pulmonary illnesses in August, as of mid-October. There has been one confirmed death: a man in his mid-40s who died in a St. Louis hospital in September.
Williams told The Missouri Times last month the cases seen in the state track with trends at the national level: The median age for someone with a pulmonary illness related to e-cigarette use is 19, and the majority of cases are male.
As of Oct. 8, 1,299 lung injury cases related to vaping or e-cigarette use have been reported to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stemming from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory. Additionally, 26 deaths have been confirmed in 21 states.
The CDC said most patients reported using products containing THC, and the “latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources … are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.”
“According to the CDC, many of these cases involve marijuana vaping products that were purchased on the unregulated, untested black market. With Missouri preparing to award hundreds of medical marijuana facility licenses in the coming months and begin regulated retail sales of lab-tested medical marijuana early next year, it is incumbent that we continue to work together to safeguard public health — and diminish the black market,” Mullins said.
To that end, MoCannTrade — with industry experts and national organizations such as the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Cannabis Industry Association — recommended in its letter:
- Ban medical marijuana vapor products that contain lipids or lipid-based thinning agents such as medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, polyethylene glycol, or Vitamin E acetate. This ban should only apply to vapor products, as these substances are considered safe when properly ingested or applied to the skin, but not when inhaled.
- Clearly label all active and inactive ingredients in marijuana-infused products, including the liquid for vapor cartridges, and any lipid-based ingredients (i.e. thickening additives) used in the manufacturing process.
- Ensure all marijuana and marijuana-derived products, as well as vapor cartridges and product packaging, are confirmed lead-free and heavy metal-free from the manufacturer or point of origin. The state’s current testing standards allow for trace amounts of lead, mercury, cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and total chromium.
- Revise the current mercury testing standard for infused products to a safer level of 1.5 parts per million.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.