Tag: vitamin e acetate

Oregon Bans Vitamin E Acetate From Cannabis Vape Cartridges

Last week I wrote a couple of blogs about cannabis vape cartridges, including whether Oregon should follow Michigan’s lead and ban vitamin E acetate from the market after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) named the substance as the most likely culprit behind over 40 deaths and 2,000 illnesses nationwide. On Friday, state regulators announced the ban on the ingredient. OPB reported on the decision by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission:

Based on the CDC’s findings, the OLCC has determined that vitamin E acetate is an “adulterant,” or an ingredient which is “foreign, inferior, poisonous or deleterious.”

This action by the commission supports the public health finding. The ingredient would still be allowed in non-inhaled products such as lotions and edibles.

“We’re making it clear that to protect consumer health we will vigorously scrutinize what goes into marijuana products sold in Oregon’s legal marketplace,” Steve Marks, OLCC executive director, said in a news release. “The commission is taking steps with our regulatory partners to put in place additional consumer safeguards.”

Erin Purchase, Director of Operations of Kind Leaf and a member of Oregon’s new formed Vaping Public Health Workgroup, stated, “I am happy to see that the OLCC has taken the first steps in ensuring consumer safety by banning Vitamin E Acetate. I hope that our state regulators take additional steps by requiring additives to be labeled on the packages. Perhaps with further studies and clarifications the importance of transparent labeling will be revealed.”

Personally, I applaud this decision of the OLCC and am proud of Kind Leaf and other good actors in the Oregon market that have been proactive and are working towards more safety precautions and labeling transparency. The ability to adapt to new information with new industry norms and regulations is just one of the examples why legalization is a much better policy than prohibition. It’s possible that the cannabis industry will need to adapt again as the CDC continues to study the vaping issue to determine if any other factors besides vitamin E acetate are involved, as The Washington Post reports:

Investigators are also trying to find out what other toxins might be flowing into people’s lungs as they vape. Federal health officials have said the outbreak may have more than one cause.

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“We’ll be looking to see if we get anything unusual,” (the CDC’s Jim) Pirkle said. Most of the sick patients vaped multiple products, including those containing THC. “It could be that only one of the products causes disease and the others did not. But we don’t know which one, so we still have to analyze all of them.”

 

Scientists hope to have “a good chunk” of results within about six weeks, he said.

Stay tuned as we keep you posted on the latest science, regulations, and industry decisions impacting consumer safety. Here is the OLCC’s full announcement on the banning of vitamin E acetate from cannabis vape cartridges:

November 22, 2019

OLCC Affirms Authority to Prohibit Marijuana Adulterants

Ban Vitamin E Acetate from Marijuana Vaping Products

Portland, OR —  At its monthly meeting on November 21, 2019, the Commissioners of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission affirmed the OLCC’s existing authority to ban adulterants, such as Vitamin E acetate, from inclusion in marijuana products.  The Commission also approved eight marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements.

Public health investigators with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have identified Vitamin E acetate as a potential culprit in the national vaping respiratory illness outbreak.  Forty-two people, including two in Oregon, have died from the illness.  More than 2,100 individuals have been afflicted with the lung injury, including 18 Oregonians.

Previously the OLCC had not expressly allowed or banned Vitamin E acetate from being mixed into marijuana vaping products.  Ingredients for marijuana products are already screened as part of the OLCC’s packaging and labeling pre-approval process.  The Commission’s action supports both the public health finding and the agency’s ability to ban Vitamin E acetate.

“We’re making it clear that to protect consumer health we will vigorously scrutinize what goes into marijuana products sold in Oregon’s legal marketplace,” said Steve Marks, OLCC Executive Director.  “The Commission is taking steps with our regulatory partners to put in place additional consumer safeguards.  Just this week we discussed with the legislature establishing a state-run reference lab so that regulators can test marijuana products in an effort to better protect consumers.”

Under Oregon law, the OLCC can prohibit recreational marijuana licensees from selling a marijuana item that contains “injurious or adulterated” ingredients. See ORS 475B.232(2) for reference.

Under existing OLCC administrative rules “adulterated” is defined to mean in part “a foreign, inferior, poisonous or deleterious ingredient or substance that renders the marijuana item injurious to health.  See OAR 845-025-1015(2) for reference.  Based upon the CDC finding, the OLCC has determined that Vitamin E acetate is an adulterant.

Vitamin E acetate may continue to be included in non-inhaled marijuana products, such as lotions and edibles, so long as its introduction into those products meets all other OLCC requirements.

Michigan Bans Vitamin E Acetate in Vaping Products, Should Oregon Follow Suit?

To be perfectly honest, the deaths attributed to cannabis vape cartridges have hit me pretty hard. As someone that has dedicated most of my adult life to ending cannabis prohibition, the fact that any cannabis product has contributed to a death troubles me. Of course, probably all of the 47 deaths and 2,000+ illnesses have been caused by cartridges from the illegal market, but just the fact that the two victims in Oregon shopped at licensed retailers is extremely alarming, even if it hasn’t been proven that the two deaths were in fact caused by licensed products.

While Oregon’s plan to ban flavored vaping products has been temporarily halted by the Oregon Court of Appeals, we certainly haven’t heard the last of proposed regulations. With the additive vitamin e acetate a very likely culprit according to experts, shouldn’t Oregon be seriously considering a ban on the unneeded ingredient? Michigan just announced such a ban, as reported by The Detroit News:

Michigan regulators have temporarily paused the sale of marijuana vaping products as they implement new safety standards spurred by an outbreak of lung injuries. Also, regulators banned on Friday the use of vitamin E acetate, an additive that’s been linked to the injuries, in marijuana vaping products.

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Under the new rules, Michigan is now requiring that all inactive ingredients added to marijuana products be clearly listed on the product label.

“Prohibiting additives that could cause harm to human health is a step forward in efforts to protect the public during this outbreak of lung injury cases,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

I’m thankful for Kind Leaf stepping up to work with processors to ensure that vape cartridges are properly labeled. This type of leadership is just one reason why consumers should support the craft cannabis boutique. Kind Leaf’s CEO and founder, Brandon Krenzler, stated:

“Kind Leaf is asking every single Oregon producer to proactively label all ingredients found within any cannabis product on our shelf. If the product has flavorings, label the each additive individually, if there is MCT oil, label it accordingly, if there is residual butane, it should be labeled.

“It is the right of the consumer to be informed and make concrete purchase decisions, and be confident that all ingredients are transparently listed. This has become a matter of integrity in the cannabis industry to ensure consumer safety by being fully transparent.

“We have the chance to set the tone and move past the contrived corporate mindset that has befallen this country and establish standards that can be used as an example to other industries. We shouldn’t have to have the FDA make requirements. We all purchase food from the store and can appreciate the listing of ingredients, shouldn’t we provide the same peace of mind?”

Speaking for myself, the state needs to step up its testing and labeling procedures and banning vitamin E acetate seems to be a no-brainer. Oregon has done a great job of leading on several cannabis policies, but here’s an example when the Beaver State may want to follow Michigan’s lead on consumer safety protections.

Kind Leaf Responds to the Oregon Court of Appeals Blocking the State’s Ban on Flavored Cannabis Vape Cartridges

With the death toll reaching 42 and more than 2,100 serious illnesses reported, contaminated vape cartridges have rocked the cannabis and vaping industries. After Oregon first confirmed deaths and illnesses in the state, Pendleton’s Kind Leaf took the proactive approach of pulling vape cartridges that contained artificial ingredients, or couldn’t prove all-natural ingredients, off of their shelves.

Opinions may vary and I respect differences of opinions, but I personally applaud Kind Leaf’s decision and am glad that the company’s Director of Operations, Erin Purchase, has been appointed to the state commission looking into the matter. Oregon Governor Kate Brown eventually announced a temporary ban on flavored cannabis vape cartridges, but that directive was just temporarily blocked by the Oregon Court of Appeals. What happens now is anyone’s guess, but we can probably expect the Oregon Legislature to take up the issue and for formal rulemaking to take place next year.

Speaking for myself only, it seems to me that the state should be looking into the additive vitamin E acetate first and foremost since it seems to be a prime suspect. I’m also concerned about any and all non-cannabis additives and think that, at the bare minimum, every ingredient should be labeled so consumers can make informed decisions.

Once again, Kind Leaf is demonstrating real leadership on the this issue and is working with others in the industry to put consumer safety at the forefront. Kind Leaf CEO and founder Brandon Krenzler released the following statement:

We have received clarification from our regulatory agencies on what Vape pens are currently allowed on retail shelves in Oregon, after this stay on the governors blanket ban by the Oregon court of appeals.

After this information, we will begin to work with our vending partners to be provided detailed information about their products and any utilized additives. We will use this information to best make the decision as to whether or not their products are of high enough quality to be on the shelves at Kind Leaf, we are making the request that producers list each individual ingredient on their label.

We will maintain our position of a highest priority to customer care and safety. Many companies have already expressed interest in disclosing their additives on the label.

I sincerely applaud Kind Leaf’s stance on cannabis vape cartridges and hope that processors and others in the industry join them in placing the health of customers, many of whom are sick patients with compromised immune systems, ahead of simply making profits. The cannabis industry still has an opportunity to be different than other industries that have gone completely corporate and place the financial interests of shareholders over the wellbeing of our communities. Kind Leaf is certainly helping lead the way.