The Cannabis Trade Federation has urged Americans not to blame the legal cannabis industry for the vaping illness that has killed 37 people.

Almost 2,000 people are confirmed as having developed the illness and it has spread to every state apart from Alaska. Lawmakers have faced calls to outlaw all vaping, including e-cigarettes and legal THC vaporizers, in response to the outbreak.

However, the cases are generally linked to illicit THC vaporizers sourced on the black market and the industry has urged the media not to tarnish the legal trade with the same brush.

Cannabis Trade Federation chief executive Neal Levine managed to secure a guest column in USA Today, and he used it to argue that a blanket vaping ban is not the answer. He said that would not be “the optimal solution” for eradicating the cause of the recent illnesses and deaths.

“In fact, some experts believe it will only make matters worse by sending more consumers to the black market,” added Levine.

This concern is shared by Shaleen Title, commissioner at the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. Gov. Charlie Baker has issued a temporary four-month ban on all vape products across Massachusetts, and she said the ban on legal vaporizers risks pushing people towards the illicit market, which is exactly the source of the unregulated and potentially dangerous product.

Levine, a former department head at the Marijuana Policy Project, accused a number of media outlets of conflating illicit, counterfeit vaping products with the regulated cannabis products produced and sold by state-licensed cannabis businesses in their reports of the illness.

He stressed that the black market vape cartridges can contain all manner of harmful additives, ingredients, pesticides and toxins, whereas legal producers are subject to strict testing for these substances.

Marijuana remains illegal at a federal level and it is up to states that have legalized it to regulate their local industries. Levine called on them to base their decisions on facts, as opposed to fear and misinformation, and he urged them to clamp down on the illicit market supporting these dangerous products.

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