Pennsylvania’s review of vaporized medical cannabis products heats up

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Image of a vape pen

Controversy over a Pennsylvania review of medical cannabis vape products has mushroomed, with regulators warning that some products could be removed from the shelves, grower/processors contemplating legal action against the state and 630,000-plus patients in the dark about what to do.

“This story continues to escalate,” Judith Cassel, a leading Pennsylvania cannabis attorney, told MJBizDaily on Friday.

In an unprecedented move, state regulators on Nov. 16 gave licensed grower/processors two weeks to resubmit vaporized cannabis products that contain additives for approval. The order required a detailed list of all ingredients.

Cassel said via email that all of her clients complied with the directive.

But “just because growers complied with the submission does not mean they agree that the DOH (Department of Health) has the authority it claims, or that the growers will not pursue legal actions,” she wrote.

Regulators followed up with an email to MMJ patients this week warning that vape products with additives “may not be safe for inhalation” and that products would be removed from shelves if deemed unsafe by the state’s review.

The state wrote in the email that it would conduct its review “as expeditiously as possible.” The email indicated that regulators especially are looking at externally sourced flavorings or terpenes.

State regulators did not respond Friday to an MJBizDaily request for comment.

Meredith Buettner, executive director of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition, told MJBizDaily on Friday that the state’s email to patients was “pretty unprecedented.”

Regulators didn’t take such a step even during the 2019 vape crisis, she noted.

“You can imagine that patients are scared,” she said, noting that patients have been unable to get additional information from the health department.

“People answering the phone have no idea what they are talking about or who to route them to.”

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Likewise, the state hasn’t provided any additional information to MMJ operators or front-line dispensary workers despite formal requests by the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition and others.

Buettner noted that the products in question “likely are used in markets all across the country.”

The developments are “pretty troubling” given there’s been no adverse event that has sparked the review, she said.

“This is an evaluation of products they’ve already approved. What has triggered this is a mystery, and it’s frustrating that they (state medical marijuana regulators) won’t share that information.”

Jeff Smith can be reached at jeff.smith@mjbizdaily.com.