Will Vaping Illnesses Push Federal Marijuana Law Reform?

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The ongoing saga of people getting sick from vaping has dominated the news cycle in the cannabis community at various times over the last few months. With the federal government having their hands tied due to prohibition and the CDC seemingly woefully behind on identifying possible causes, many in the cannabis community have pointed out that this is the very thing legalization could majorly impact.

The fact of the matter is that the federal government – even with all the tools necessary at its disposal – is going to have a tough time getting a handle on the vaping crisis that has now killed more than three dozen people. So you can imagine how well they are doing with zero tools at their disposal.

With marijuana being federally illegal, the government has no regulatory responsibility when it comes to THC vapes. And since bootleg THC cartridges have emerged as by far the worst culprit when it comes to making people sick, the feds have their hands tied.

“The emergence of concerns regarding the safety of unregulated vaping products has uniquely validated the exact issues that NORML has been fighting for over the last five decades, that regulation is the superior policy to prohibition,” Justin Strekal, the Political Director for NORML, told The Marijuana Times.

Leaving the sales of things like THC vape cartridges in the hands of illicit dealers seems like a status quo federal officials would want to change. If some guy is in his garage making vials full of THC oil for sale on the black market, doesn’t that strike the feds as something they would want eliminated as much possible?

“As we saw in a recent congressional hearings, even CDC’s Deputy Director, Dr. Anne Schuchat, acknowledged that prohibition was making it harder to respond to the issue,” Justin told us. 

“What must be done ultimately in order to protect public health and consumer confidence is the enactment of a regulatory structure that can identify and address bad actors and product issues in the marketplace. Under a policy of criminalization, that is impossible.”

As many of you know, I’m not a big fan of government and their ability to get things done. For the most part, it’s mediocre people making decisions for strangers that they have no business making. But even the voluntary industry associations that would set standards for members that I would like to see in as many instances as possible are in a gray area without federal legalization.

In any case, both of those options seem imminently preferable to what we have now (or a mixture of the two, which is what will end up happening). And while state laws have allowed for regulation and industry associations, federal prohibition has slowed that progress and guarantees that no state laws are safe if the feds decide to enforce marijuana’s Schedule I status.

It’s hard to tell if the vaping crisis has caused any movement when it comes to support for federal legalization. With the dual circuses of impeachment and the Presidential Election ongoing, there doesn’t seem to be much energy left for things like cannabis law reform.

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