Pennsylvania regulators created storm of controversy in the Keystone State’s medical marijuana program this past fall when in November they ordered all vape products with any additives, including flavorings or terpenes, to be identified and resubmitted for state approval within eight business days.
According to reports, the move was done in the name of “patient safety,” but the directive came seemingly out of nowhere, with a warning of harsh penalties for failure to comply, such as suspension of sale of the entire line of vaporized products, license revocation or suspension.
According to Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition executive director Meredith Buettner, a November report showed that vape products represent 65% of the Pennsylvania market, which does not allow flower products.
“It’s our most popular form of medication here in Pennsylvania,” Buettner said, noting that individual operators and dispensaries have decided on their own what to continue selling, leaving a “mixed bag” of products available to the state’s 630,000 registered patients.
Patients were also sent an email in November notifying of the review but warning, “In the interim, you should be aware that products with added ingredients may not be safe for inhalation and you should make your own decision about whether to use these products,” which Buettner said left patients “caught off guard and scared.”
She also noted that her membership, which includes 85% of state license holders, know of no complaints or concerns with vaporizer products and have been unable to get any additional information from the state on what prompted the review.
Buettner said the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition remains committed to compliance and would like to be part of larger discussions about additives in vape products, noting that advocates have been calling for more transparency of vape ingredients in general. But Buettner said the way the Department of Health instituted the ban was “not a responsible way to regulate,” particularly with the lack of communication to stakeholders.
“Why are we doing this?” she asked. “It’s been frustrating that we haven’t been able to get information from the department.”
Pennsylvania state officials did not reply to a request for comment prior to deadline.
— Brian Beckley