Last month, cannabis vaping became legal in Canada amid a black market health crisis. Naturally, Canadian cultivators want to know what it means for their businesses.
Cannabis vapes, along with beverages and edibles, became legal for sale in Canada last month. And while legalization regulates the contents of legal cannabis vapes, Canadian cannabis and health industry professionals are (rightfully) concerned about the potential for danger.
Amid the growing confusion, controversy, and misinformation surrounding the spate of vaping-related illness in North America, many public health experts suggested Canada should hit pause on cannabis oil legalization. Understandable, given the nearly 1,300 cases of vaping-related lung illness in the U.S.
But despite this, Canadian vape legalization proceeded as planned, which presents opportunities despite the apparent challenges (more on that later).
The precise cause of the illnesses and death is still hazy, but here’s what we do know:
- Last week, health authorities zeroed in on Vitamin E acetate as the most likely culprit, a thickening agent used often in black-market THC vapes. Of 29 lung samples taken from victims, all of them contained Vitamin E acetate.
- It’s mostly a cannabis vape cartridge problem— but maybe not. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still trying to assess whether nicotine vapes can cause the same sickness.
- Health professionals have long worried about the potential long term drawbacks of nicotine vaping.
- Some patients were found to have modified vape device settings to burn at a higher temperature.
- In addition to Vitamin E acetate, harmful pesticides and additives may be contributing to the sudden explosion of vaping-related illness.
- The issue seems to be confined to black-market THC vapes rather than those purchased from the legal market.
The vape crisis is an opportunity to highlight safe cultivation methods and processes.
While there’s only one confirmed report of a vaping-related illness in Canada, Canadians want to know what they are consuming. And we should tell them.
Since legalization is our chance to safeguard consumers against the dangers of black market cannabis, the Canadian cannabis industry understandably pushed back against suggestions that regulated products are unsafe. In a highly regulated legal cannabis industry, our products are safer than those on the black market because the ingredients are known. It’s that simple.
“If there should be any issues or safety concerns, it’s much easier to investigate products that are already regulated.” - Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, Canada
Openness is critical for a highly-regulated industry with a history of prohibition like cannabis. Canadian cultivators can positively steer the conversation through transparent processes and extraction methods. This is your opportunity to highlight the safety of your products and commitment to purity, sterility, and cleanliness.
We are entering a new era.
Canadian cannabis is in the process of a massive change— from a stigmatized and criminalized black-market product to a highly regulated industry that operates in the daylight.
For Canadian cultivators, the controversy and confusion surrounding the vape crisis is your chance to be open and transparent. Tell people about the cleanliness of your product, your commitment to the health and safety of consumers, your focus on sourcing clean raw materials, and your sustainable and organic growing practices. It’s also the time to evaluate processes through the lens of safety and sustainability.
Do you operate a GMP-certified facility? If not, it should be on your developmental timeline, especially to safeguard against questions being asked in response to the vape crisis. Consumers are becoming more informed about what GMP means and eventually will demand it as it becomes more commonly known and recognized as an additional level of product safety. As a manufacturer of harvesting equipment designed to fit into GMP workflows, (like the Mobius Trimmer M108S, Mobius Cannbucker MBX, and Mobius Mill M210), it’s something we wholeheartedly recommend.
Believe it or not, this is a step in the right direction.
The shift away from illegal cannabis products in Canada is a positive step from a public health perspective because the contents of our products are now known and tested. Vapes, edibles, topicals, and beverages are expected to hit Canada’s legal dispensaries mid-December, and consumers can trust that what they purchase is safe for consumption. Let’s turn this crisis into a real opportunity for the cannabis industry. It’s a chance to show that legal cannabis businesses are committed to providing consumers with clean, safe, and sustainable products. It’s up to you, as a cultivator, to make sure that’s the case.