The government of Massachusetts has released back into the market more than 600,000 cannabis vaping products. This decision comes after the state banned the sale and distribution of the same products nearly one year ago.
In September 2019, Massachusetts held all vaping products after a strange vaping-related lung disease rocked the state. The illness referred to as e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), led to thousands of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths across the U.S. This prompted the state’s Cannabis Control Commission to order a quarantine on all cannabis vaping units, except for flower products used by medical cannabis patients.
Now, the government is lifting the quarantine, allowing back into the market these products, which were manufactured before December 12, 2019. According to an announcement made by the Commission on Monday (August 3), “licenses may retest and release—or destroy—certain products with enhanced warning labels,” under certain conditions.
In the announcement, the executive director of the Commission Shawn Collins said:
Since the commonwealth declared a vaping public health emergency last fall, the Commission has dedicated significant energy and resources to investigate the additives, hardware, and storage practices that licensees use to produce and sell cannabis vaporizer products.
Shawn noted that repeat tests of licensed products failed to return any detectable levels of levels of vitamin E acetate. However, the tests revealed that heavy metal contamination could increase in vaping products over time.
Cause of EVALI still unknown
So far, the exact cause of EVALI remains unidentified. However, vitamin E acetate became the main culprit in the research into the vaping-related illnesses by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When it comes to vaping products, cannabis licensees have three options: dispose, retest and release, or reclaim, which “repurposed into other products”—which would also require retesting. Re-released vaping products must bear a label to show that they “passed retesting for heavy metals and vitamin E Acetate.” The label must also indicate that the products, or their contents, were previously “quarantined.”
The decision to release the quarantined products into the market elicited mixed reactions. This summer, the Commission sought public comment on how best to handle the products. Some respondents called for the destruction of the products while others said they should be back to the market, as long as they cleared testing and bore transparency labels.