In the midst of a national wave of respiratory illnesses linked to vaping, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission plans to ask cannabis retailers to review their products and use their discretion to pull anything off the shelves that they don't feel confident is safe.
If that directive sounds squishy, it is: No specific criteria for how stores should determine whether they should pull products is provided.
Health agencies, both on the state and national level, are still trying to figure out what specific vaping brands or products might be the culprit in the 450 severe respiratory illnesses related to vaping that have been reported nationwide. Six people have died from the illness, including one Oregon person.
Agency's executive director Steve Marks told the Associated Press on Sep. 11 that the OLCC will also ask cannabis stores to put up warning signs about the risks associated with vaping.
WW spoke to one Oregon cannabis shop whose director decided to pull 15 of her 28 vaping product brands from their shelves before the OLCC made the request for shops to vet their own products.
Erin Purchase, director of operations at Kind Leaf Pendleton, told WW that she was uncomfortable with the vague labeling on some of the vaping products she buys from manufacturers. She particularly took issue with the blanket label "natural and artificial flavor."
"The retailer does not even have access to the 'proprietary' ingredients or the methods behind the extraction done by the processor," Purchase says.
The OLCC appears to be specifically concerned about the possibility of vitamin E acetate being added to products on shelves at licensed cannabis retailers. The compound is a popular dilutant for vape cartridges on the black market.
"My worry is that some of these folks may have gone around and put vitamin E in their products that we are unaware of," Marks said to the Associated Press. "If it's in our products, it's out there and we don't have a clear way to know which ones it may or may not be in."
The OLCC does not currently test for vitamin E acetate in cannabis products, but OLCC spokesman Mark Pettinger told WW earlier this week that stricter regulations may be coming. (He did not respond to a request for comment today.)
"Because of the vaping illness crisis," he said, "the OLCC will consider taking whatever action is necessary to protect consumer health, including the recall of tainted product, and banning inclusion of questionable additives into marijuana products that threaten human health and public safety."
The Oregon Health Authority told WW on Sep. 11 that it is still working on isolating the products the Oregonian who died in July was using prior to falling ill.