On June 18, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission took steps towards banning non-cannabis additives into cannabis vaping products, according to an announcement by OLCC.
The proposal is intended to curb incidents of vaping-associated lung injury (VALI) partially linked to inhalable cannabis products. As of March, 2020, the state of Oregon had twenty reported VALI cases including two fatalities, according to the OLCC.
The additives are used for a range of reasons including flavor, texture, and dilution. Often these additives are considered safe to eat or ingest, but it is unknown whether they are safe when vaporized and inhaled.
For example, vitamin E acetate is considered safe to ingest and some vaping manufacturers used it to improve the flavor and texture of vaping products. However, it turned out not to be safe when vaped. Thousands of Americans ended up in the hospital last year, with breathing difficulties and lung damage. Approximately 70 people died nationwide as a result. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked it to vaping products containing vitamin E acetate.
Vaping product manufacturers often use ingredients from The U.S. Food and Drug Administration GRAS list. This refers to hundreds of ingredients the FDA considers “generally safe to eat.”
According to the OLCC, while these additives from the GRAS list “may be generally recognized as safe for ingestion, the same cannot be said for their inhalation. There is no regulatory body that evaluates the safety of these ingredients when inhaled, and additive makers do not disclose all of their ingredients due to trade secret concerns.”
TJ Sheehy, who directs research at the OLCC told OPB, “They use things like essential oils that are for perfume. Or products for ingestion. There’s no research whatsoever about what happens when you ignite or vaporize these fatty oils and you put them into your lungs,”
“We don’t believe that consumers should be guinea pigs,” said Sheehy.
The Vaping ingredient discussion was part of the OLCC’s monthly meeting. At the same meeting, the OLCC also moved to extend the ability of licensed marijuana retailers to continue curbside delivery. That temporary rule expires in September 2020 and cannot be extended, according to the OLCC announcement.
By Samantha Sied