As stories about illnesses from vaporizing continue to circulate through the news cycle, it’s important to remember that for some, this is their first exposure to the notion of cannabis vaporization. Sometimes we forget that there are people who have never cared about cannabis or the issue of legalization, and now the first they are hearing about the wonderful new world of cannabis products is that people are getting sick and dying.
To be sure, the people I’m talking about are not a large portion of the population. Some may even wonder why we should care about what they think at all. Beyond the possible impact at the ballot box and in the legislature in states that are moving forward with cannabis law reform, there is something else to consider. These people are more than possible votes; they are human beings. In the end, everyone deserves the option of using cannabis, and part of that is making sure everyone has good information when it comes to the plant and ways to ingest it.
A major portion of this information campaign has to come from the legal cannabis industry itself. Unlike the days of full scale prohibition, when activists were the lone voice in the wilderness trying to thwart the propaganda surrounding marijuana, there are now large organizations that have come together to represent the interests of legitimate, job-creating, tax-paying companies.
A statement from the Cannabis Trade Federation – a national coalition of cannabis-related businesses – reads in part, “[w]e are troubled and saddened by reports of an outbreak of pulmonary-related illnesses associated with the use of vaporization products, including those that reportedly contained cannabis. As an industry, our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our consumers. The Cannabis Trade Federation therefore supports a full investigation into the cause or causes of the incidents to ensure the well-being of all consumers. Many members of the Federation made the decision to enter this industry based in part on the relative safety of cannabis compared to other legal products, and we are committed to ensuring that no ingredients, processes, or technologies diminish consumer confidence in cannabis.”
The relative safety of cannabis when compared to other products is a major selling point for the plant and for legalization itself, and if people believe it is cannabis that is making users sick, that hits at the heart of the movement itself.
As the CTF points out later in their statement, legalization and regulation will go a long way toward alleviating problems like these, but in the end it is up to manufacturers and producers to make sure they are doing what they can to not squander the confidence the cannabis plant has earned.
““These unfortunate illnesses and deaths are yet another terrible, and largely avoidable, consequence of failed prohibition policies,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (the largest cannabis trade association in the country), said in a statement. “Current federal laws interfere with research, prevent federal regulatory agencies from establishing safety guidelines, discourage states from regulating cannabis, and make it more difficult for state-legal cannabis businesses to displace the illicit market. These policies are directly bolstering the markets for untested and potentially dangerous illicit products.
“The fact that so few of these cases have so far reported any link whatsoever to the legal cannabis market is a testament to the effectiveness of state regulators and licensed businesses at ensuring product reliability. As an industry, however, we view it as our duty to make sure whatever is causing these illnesses is not replicated in legal products and to work toward enacting regulations that can prevent similar public health issues from occurring in the future. The legal cannabis industry is paying very close attention to any new information provided by medical authorities regarding these cases.”
The industry’s response to this problem will go a long way toward how it affects legal cannabis as a whole, but it is certainly a great opportunity to educate those who otherwise may never have been interested in cannabis in the first place.