The Oregon Liquor Control Commission today announced a voluntary recall for a widely distributed cannabis vaping product that contains potentially harmful additives.
"Marijuana products sold in Oregon's recreational marijuana market during the last two years contained additives, squalene and squalane, that have been linked to safety concerns similar to vitamin E acetate when vaped and inhaled," the OLCC said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Sqaulene and squalane are derived from olives, the agency said. A company called Bulk Naturals LLC, which does business as True Terpenes, employed those substances to make a non-cannabis product called "Viscosity," used to make vaping products.
A Bend company, Oregrown, notified the OLCC it used Viscosity to make a product called Oregrown PAX Era D9 Elite, which was widely sold throughout the state by a total of 268 licensed retailers over the past two years.
After consultation with the OLCC, Oregrown has stopped using Viscosity, which the agency says Oregrown says it did not know was potentially harmful and stopped manufacturing in August 2019. (True Terpenes has also been fully cooperative, the OLCC said.)
"OLCC recently commissioned a study that determined that when exposed to heat, squalene and squalane produce harmful chemicals," the agency said. "It has also been documented that inhaling squalene has been associated with exogenous lipoid pneumonia. Initial evidence about these additives also suggests a potential for consumer harm similar to that already proven about vitamin E acetate."
Before the COVID-19 pandemic descended on the country, concerns about the hazards of vaping were a significant public health concern. Vaping-related illnesses have faded from the spotlight amid another respiratory disease, but state officials have continued discussing rules for the additives in vaping liquids.
At its Dec. 17 meeting, the OLCC will consider whether to declare squalene and squalane "adulterants," which would make any products containing them subject to a mandatory recall.
The commission will also consider tightening its disclosure rules for the makeup of the substances that are included in vaping products. True Terpenes did not disclose the ingredients in Viscosity, terming them a trade secret. The OLCC will push for full transparency in future.
For now, the OLCC said, anybody who purchased an Oregrown product that might contain Viscosity should check the label.
"Consumers can verify the date of manufacture and whether an item they have purchased is subject to this recall," the OLCC said. "Any Oregrown PAX Era D9 Elite item with the label identification of '2520' and made before August 31, 2019, should be destroyed by the consumer or returned to the retailer where the item was purchased."
In a statement, True Terpenes said it will work with the OLCC to make sure consumers are safe.
"We have committed early to supporting the OLCC process throughout this particular investigation and we will remain a committed partner in advancing a safer industry for the public," the company said.
"Prior to recent events, our team acted expeditiously to notify all affected parties in full, proactive transparency. The product in question contains ingredients that are included in a broader list identified by the OLCC for potential exclusion from use. We fully support the OLCC and as the investigation continues, we will provide our complete and steadfast cooperation."
For more information about the recall, please click here.