Vape Product Manufacturers Pose a Huge Risk to Cannabis Brands

The New York State Department of Health issued a health advisory to inform state residents that using vaping products that contain THC can be dangerous. New York indicated that ten (10) residents between the ages of 18 – 49 were hospitalized after they used vaping products that contained THC and other substances. New York is working with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to investigate the causes.

The CDC reports that there are potentially 94 cases in 14 states that occurred from June 28, 2019, to August 15, 2019. Cases are being reported in Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Indiana, and Minnesota primarily in teenagers and young adults. The CDC indicates that there is no conclusive evidence that an infectious disease is causing the illnesses.

In April 2019, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced that it found lead in vape cartridges during testing. Michigan warned consumers of the risks associated with vaping and cited a study on the dangers of e-cigarettes conducted by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study indicates that chronic use of a contaminated e-cigarette can cause lung, liver, immune, cardiovascular and brain damage. The study tested the e-cigarette devices of 56 daily users, including the e-liquid and aerosol, for heavy metals. Researchers found heavy metals in the aerosol produced by e-liquid heated through coils. Almost half of the samples contained lead concentrations that were higher than the health standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It is clear that e-cigarettes and vaping products will be heavily regulated in the near future. The FDA’s Acting Commission, Ned Sharpless M.D., issued a statement in July on its efforts to regulate the e-cigarette market including the issuance of recommendations that require manufacturers to consider factors when designing an e-cigarette including how the e-liquid is heated, the aerosol is generated and transmitted to the user.

Brand building is the name of the game in the cannabis industry right now. Companies are developing recipes, products and marketing materials that are designed to win over consumers. One of the biggest risks for a brand is an event that will hurt its image or reputation such as a recall or consumer safety issue. Given the recent health reports, cannabis companies should take steps to ensure vaping products are safe for consumers.

Cannabis manufacturers that produce vaping cartridges or other vaping products and retailers should take the following steps:

  • Perform a third-party risk assessment on the vaping product supplier. The risk assessment should identify whether the supplier is in compliance with the FDA’s recommendations for responsible manufacturers and whether the design of the vape product may cause lead contamination or other safety issues.

  • Ensure that effective health and safety procedures are used for the extraction of THC products and in the cartridge filling process.

  • Test the vaping products and cartridges thoroughly for contaminants in the device and the aerosol.

  • Require the supplier to notify you before it makes changes to the design or materials used in manufacturing the vaping products.

  • Request research related to the safety of products safety and any possible risks.

  • Document the rationale for determining that the vaping product is safe and routinely test to ensure that the controls are still effective.

Companies that are developing brands should ensure that appropriate due diligence is performed for all suppliers that can impact the company’s operations or reputation. The review should occur on a periodic basis, and auditing rights will help ensure that the vendor’s representations are accurate. By vetting suppliers, companies can ensure the brand’s integrity and reputation.