by Andrew Kline, NCIA’s Director of Public Policy
With uncertainty about the proximate cause of the vaping crisis continuing to roil state regulators, and state governors trying to determine the right short-term solution to protect the public health, the former Commissioner of the FDA has a longer-term plan. Former Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is rightly calling for descheduling and federal regulation in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. NCIA made the same argument in our Policy Council’s recent white paper on regulating cannabis post-legalization and in our public responses to the vaping crisis.
While no one yet knows for certain what has been causing these injuries and deaths, it is readily apparent that unregulated and untested products are extremely dangerous and continue to infiltrate the market. Just last week, a mother and her two sons were arrested for allegedly illegally filling over 30,000 vape cartridges in Wisconsin from their home. That burgeoning illicit and untested market poses real risks to American consumers. And the best way to eliminate the illicit market is to create opportunities for consumers to purchase products from legal dispensaries and market awareness of the benefits of purchasing from those regulated markets.
For example, if consumers know that legal dispensaries are selling regulated products that have been tested to improve consumer safety, then they will be more inclined to stop purchasing from the illicit market. People already know that when they step foot into a grocery store, the foods they eat and the drugs and dietary supplements they take are part of a supply chain designed to improve safety. That is because they have placed trust in the USDA and FDA. And no better way to build consumer confidence, than to make sure that trusted federal agencies are in charge of promoting public health in the cannabis industry.
We can’t continue to leave the cannabis industry in a state of uncertainty. It’s time to deschedule, regulate at the federal level, and require mandatory lab testing. We must displace the illegal, unregulated and untested illicit market. There is no plan B.
Andrew Kline is Director of Public Policy for NCIA and Chair of NCIA’s Safe Vaping Task Force