NY Cannabis industry pushes back on flavored vape ban
The New York Cannabis Vape Standards Coalition is a group of stakeholders committed to advocating for quality standards in vape ingredients that spur industry growth, align with public health interests, and advance consumer choice.
These stakeholders include licensed New York adult-use processors, brands, retailers, and ingredient manufacturers. Our joint perspectives are informed by years of experience.
In the recently revised adult-use regulations, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has moved to ban some of the most popular vape products on the market. Specifically, in § 123.6 (9)(vi) of the processor operations section, “flavors” that are prohibited from any inhaled product include ice cream or gelato, vanilla, cereal, candy, chocolate, dessert, concept flavors, and soda. It is unclear whether this ban only relates to the product’s name or whether inspectors will be quarantining a product with a similar flavor profile – adding to confusion amongst producers and dispensaries tasked with ensuring compliance.
A review of popular dispensary menus would suggest that up to 25% of vapes on the market would now be banned – most of which are simply names of cannabis strains. This new ban goes beyond the current packaging, marketing, labeling, and advertising regulations (PMLA) that prohibit marketing that may be attractive to youth but importantly exempt strain names.
The New York supply chain is fledgling. Dispensary operators are competing with thousands of illicit stores that will clearly not comply with this new ban while cultivators are struggling to fund their continued operations. Vape products using the “flavors” prohibited by § 123.6 (9)(vi) are extremely popular among consumers and the sudden lack of availability of these products on New York shelves will drive these customers back to the illicit market. Importantly, vapes are also responsible for using the largest volume of cannabis extracts – a critical source of revenue for cultivators who grow outdoors for biomass.
Consumers choose vapes because they prefer convenience, and they clearly desire flavor profiles similar to their favorite flower strains such as gelato, cereal milk, and others. The ingredients used to recreate these flavors are identical to those found naturally in the cannabis plant.
If New York were to enact this strict ban, consumers would simply go back to the illicit market or travel across the border to Massachusetts or New Jersey – where they haven’t instituted such prohibitionist rules. We ask the OCM to abandon this ill-conceived ban that would take tens of millions of dollars out of the regulated supply chain and instead, utilize the already enacted regulations that prevent labels or marketing that would be attractive to youth.