California Governor Issues Executive Order Targeting Cannabis and Tobacco Vaping Products

Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that directs the California Department of Public Health to develop recommendations to address the availability and marketing of vaping devices. The executive order notes that the clinical lung syndrome emerged in August 2019 that may be related to illegally produced cannabis cartridges.

The executive order directs the CDPH to reduce the availability of vaping products by persons under 21 and to enhance the disclosure of health risks. We would expect the recommendations would include further disclosures of lung related issues on cannabis vaping products. The executive order also calls for increased enforcement against the illegal sale of cannabis vaping products.

The Governor’s executive order comes one day before it was reported that a California man died due to the vaping related lung disease. The CDC announced that it opened an Emergency Operations Center to handle the inter-agency response and coordination. The CDC is working with the Food and Drug Administration to test the chemicals in the e-cigarettes used by the patients.

Cannabis companies should be proactive and prepared to act quickly in reviewing products and preparing new packaging labels. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission distributed a letter to licensees last week asking cannabis companies to be proactive and remove products that contain Vitamin E oil, “tocopheryl acetate” or “alpha‐tocopherol from shelves. The OLCC is asking processors to contact them if their recipes contain these chemicals and to set the products aside. Retailers are also being asked to review vape cartridges and to provide consumers with the CDC’s consumer advisory bulletin.

The cannabis industry is used to a high rate of change. Given the latest news, the industry must take this issue seriously and work to keep the public safe. The greatest risk the cannabis industry faces is that the government will determine that cannabis products pose a public safety threat.