Washington has become the second state to enforce a temporary ban on the sale of flavoured tobacco and marijuana vaping products.
The Washington Board of Health voted 7-1 in favour of imposing a ban that begins today and lasts for 120 days. It will now work closely with the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board to implement and enforce the emergency rule for the next four months,
It follows the outbreak of a lung illness that has claimed 26 lives and left more than 1,000 people unwell. The illness has been linked to using illicit cannabis cartridges obtained on the black market, but one case was linked to a vaping product bought at a legal pot shop in Oregon.
The FDA has since warned all consumers that they should not use any vaping products containing THC. “According to recent findings, most of the patients impacted by these illnesses reported using THC-containing products, suggesting THC products are playing a role in the these illnesses,” said Acting Commissioner Norman Sharpless.
Massachusetts was the first state to impose a temporary ban, although vape shop owners are threatening to sue the state over it. The licensed industry insists its products are safe and rigorously tested, and it is going on the offensive by demanding a clampdown on counterfeit vape cartridges.
Yet Washington – the second state to legalize recreational marijuana use and a mature market for cannabis vaping – has now followed in Massachusetts’ footsteps. Gov. Jay Inslee had previously ordered health officials to place the 120-day ban on flavoured vaping products covering cannabis and e-cigarettes.
The Board of Health used its emergency authority at a meeting to deliver upon that demand. The Seattle Times reported a rowdy meeting in which a passionate and raucous audience made the case to abandon plans for the 120-day ban.
More than 350 opponents packed into the ballroom at the SeaTac Marriott for the meeting, and roughly 60 of them testified during the public comment session. Yet the officials on the Board were unmoved and voted 7-1 in favour of the ban, leading to cries of “shame!” from those in attendance.