PORTLAND, Ore. — At a meeting on Friday, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) adopted the details of a temporary ban on flavored vaping products ordered by Governor Brown last week.
Cannabis retailers will need to pull their flavored vaping products by Tuesday, October 15, the OLCC decided. Beginning on that day, state regulators will begin doing inspections to ensure that stores are in compliance.
The temporary rules, which will remain in effect for 6 months starting Oct. 15, prohibit the sale of all flavored #vaping products—including online sales—to Oregonians. The ban covers all tobacco and cannabis vaping products that contain natural or artificial flavors.— OR Health Authority (@OHAOregon) October 11, 2019
According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), nicotine vaping products will share the same deadline.
The OLCC also drilled down on which products, specifically, will be affected by the ban. Any products containing organic compounds — known as terpenes — that are not derived from cannabis will be banned. This effectively bars any artificial or natural flavor additives.
During the six month ban, OLCC officials did say that they would begin a testing process on certain additives to determine if they could be safe for inhalation going forward.
Both vaping-linked deaths in Oregon, one official pointed out, were associated with cannabis vaping products bought from legal, regulated shops. Neither was linked with black market vaping products, although the CDC has focused its nationwide investigation on these.
"Oregon stands out because at least five of the nine individuals that have been sick have consumed marijuana, and all five of them shopped at OLCC-licensed stores," said TJ Sheehy, OLCC operations & policy analyst. "There is no evidence to date that any of the consumption was from counterfeit cartridges, tampered cartridges, or illicit purchases."
Sheehy said that many artificial and natural flavors used in vape products have been tested and approved for human consumption, but have not been approved for inhalation.
A joint press release from the OLCC and the OHA also illuminated what the ban will mean for nicotine vaping products.
"The ban covers all tobacco and cannabis (marijuana and hemp) vaping products that contain natural or artificial flavors including, but not limited to, chocolate, coffee, cocoa, menthol, mint, wintergreen, vanilla, honey, coconut, licorice, nuts, fruit, any candy, dessert, alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, herb or spice," the agencies said.
Tobacco-flavored nicotine products will be the only real exception the ban, which extends to online sales as well sales from stores.
"We have been warning Oregonians about the health effects of these products before this current outbreak of serious lung injury added more evidence of the dangers of vaping," said Dean Sidelinger, M.D., health officer and state epidemiologist. "These rules stop the sale of a potentially dangerous product, and they’re part of a comprehensive approach to curbing youth vaping and additional cases of vaping-associated lung injuries."
Stores caught violating the temporary rules will receive a warning letter and recommendations on coming into compliance, state officials said. Further violations could result in penalties of up to $500 per day, per violation. Cannabis stores or processors could face violations up to and including cancellation of their license.
"This commission is working very hard to ensure the cannabis industry can grow, thrive and compete in the Oregon marketplace," said Paul Rosenbaum, chair of the OLCC. "We are doing so with a clear focus on the integrity of the marketplace for businesses, consumers and public safety. However, it is our overwhelming responsibility to protect public health and our consumers from undue risk. This agency’s rapid and nimble action to implement the Governor’s executive order is exactly why regulated cannabis will always be a superior consumer choice over illegal markets."