On Thursday, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission took its most sweeping action to-date against cannabis vape additives. The move follows months of rulemaking and an independent investigation into products sold in the state’s adult use market.
Specifically, new OLCC rules take effect this month to ban: Vitamin E acetate; squalene and squalane; propylene glycol; and triglycerides. Further, the rules require more comprehensive disclosures around “non-cannabis additives,” and that products clearly note if an “additive is meant for human inhalation.”
In its “rationale for rulemaking,” published in October, the OLCC described the rules as a “first attempt at establishing minimum standards,” adding that the rules allow regulators to take “quicker action should problematic ingredients arise,” and “provide consumers with a more informed choice about the products they are vaporizing and inhaling into their lungs.”
Throughout 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Drug Enforcement Administration were all involved in addressing a vape-related lung illness that, by January of 2020, across the United States, led to 2,602 people hospitalized and 57 confirmed deaths. The exact cause of the illness, known as e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), remains unknown, but the main potential culprit that emerged was Vitamin E Acetate, used as a vape additive. (Catch up on Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the vaping illness.)
This pushed OLCC to initiate rulemaking, which was then made more urgent following an investigation by OLCC into cannabis vape products currently on the market. Last week, OLCC said it found products that could have “potential for consumer harm similar to that already proven about Vitamin E Acetate.”
The focus of the investigation was a product called Viscosity, produced by a company called Bulk Naturals LLC (True Terpenes). It contained the additives squalene, which is a terpene “derived from olives,” and squalane, its “hydrogenated version,” both banned in this week’s meeting.
OLCC found that “when exposed to heat, squalene and squalane produce harmful chemicals. It has also been documented that inhaling squalene has been associated with exogenous lipoid pneumonia.”
OLCC emphasized that True Terpenes has cooperated and had already “reformulated” its product. Though, the old formulation is still on the market: one company called Oregrown told OLCC that its PAX Era D9 Elite vape cartridges, which have been sold in hundreds of shops across the state, contained Viscosity.
Manufacturers and shops have until July 1 to get rid of non-compliant products, and manufacturers have until April 1 to ensure new products meet the new requirements.