A letter to the Congress of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and more than 800 members of the cannabis industry called on legislators to legally regulate cannabis to prevent more health problems caused by weed products on the black market. According to Marijuana Moment, the letter was delivered today to the leadership of the House and Senate.
The plea was triggered by the national outbreak of lung injuries apparently caused by counterfeit THC oil in black market cartridges. Vitamin E acetate – used by some THC oil producers to dilute cannabis oil – is the target of many government investigations. Up to 17 people died in the outbreak and more than 800 were hospitalized.
Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. Cannabis industry stakeholders are asking Congress to "dump" the drug (remove it from the Controlled Substances Act) and shift oversight from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the FDA or another agency concerned with public health and safety.
The cannabis industry has been honest from the outset about the fact that THC oil is the most likely cause of the lung injury outbreak on the black market.
"Decommissioning is the only way to meaningfully reform federal cannabis policy so that state regulatory programs can successfully ensure consumer safety and pave the way for appropriate federal regulation," the letter states.
The illegal black market for cannabis is estimated at 41 billion dollars, and patterns of cannabis oil make up a large part of it. Federal legalisation and market regulation would make the production and sale of unregulated, untested products more difficult and less attractive, as well as making regulated products cheaper and more widely available.
Add NCIA recommendations:
Congress should remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate it in a way similar to alcohol.
Consumers must stop using oil cartridges bought on the black market.
Encourage manufacturers of approved vape cartridges to stop using "diluents" until tested.
Legal producers are "strongly encouraged" to voluntarily recall products containing vitamin E acetate.
Licensed retailers (pharmacies) should "take steps to ensure that none of their available inventory of vape cartridges comes from a manufacturer that uses vitamin E acetate."
The NCIA, along with the Cannabis Trade Federation, made similar recommendations last month, Marijuana Moment said. Members of the legal cannabis industry were the first to point to black market offenders as a likely source of lung injury.
The illegal black market for cannabis is estimated at 41 billion dollars.
Cannabis oil cartridges make up a large part of it.
"These unfortunate illnesses and deaths are another terrible and largely preventable consequence of failed prohibition policies," said NCIA Director Aaron Smith. "Current federal laws disrupt research, prevent regulators from setting safety guidelines, discourage states from regulating cannabis, and make it more difficult for legal cannabis businesses to displace the illegal market.
The cannabis industry has been honest from the start about the fact that THC oil is the most likely cause of the black market outbreak of lung injury. The first report of the outbreak, which was not aimed at nicotine products, came from media such as Leafly, Merry Jane and Marijuana Times. David Downs of Leafly was a month ahead of the regular press in reporting the likely cause of lung injury and has maintained a page with the latest updates.
But until recently, the regular press channels focused exclusively on nicotine vapor products - a reflection of the CDC's alleged concerns - which have led to a misguided national panic that has resulted in a wave of varmatic product bans by governors using emergency forces.