The recent underage eCig Epidemic has been conflated with the black market tainted cannabis vaping illnesses to cause a perfect storm for the cannabis world. Cassandra Farrington, founder of MJ Biz Daily, discusses how the eCigarette Epidemic amongst teens and the illnesses being blamed on tainted black market vaping products is impacting the legal regulated and compliant cannabis operators.

What started as a war on eCigarettes, specifically flavored eCigs that are sought after by teens, has turned into a repudiation of all things eSmoking.  In the midst of the all out assault on eCigs and specifically Juul, the best known and best selling eCig brand, it seems that the Cannabis vape cartridge supply chain got compromised by illicit products that caused lung illnesses. Together this has created a crisis in confidence amongst cannabis vape users.

Even as the FDA in April approved the first ever smoking device and form factor iQOS, I Quit Ordinary Smoking, also referred to as HNB, heat not burn non combustible vaporizing technology. 

This new and improved method of consuming nicotine, which can also be used for THC/CBD cannabis derived products, has been tested and approved by the FDA as “less harmful than tobacco” and Philip Morris launched a marketing campaign in August to introduce the products in the US.

While the timing of all this seems very coincidental, ie PM started eCig epidemic newsflow/marketing just as they were launching iQOS in the US, the resulting Vaping Crisis has had a considerable impact on perceptions and sales of all things eSmoking whether nicotine or cannabis related.

This Vaping Crisis reminds me of the Tylenol scare in the 1982’s when the most popular OTC headache and pain medication, which was overtaking traditional Aspirin products like Bayer, was found to have been tainted and poisoned killing 7 people.

Johnson and Johnson was quickly forced to pull millions of dollars of product off shelves nationwide and subsequently had to reintroduce the product with safety sealed tamper proof packaging and rebuild the brand and consumer trust.

JNJ’s Tylenol is only the most recent product that has fallen victim to tainting or illicit market activity.  80 years ago, Elixir sulfanilamide was an improperly prepared sulfanilamide medicine that caused mass poisoning in the United States in 1937. It caused the deaths of more than 100 people. The public outcry caused by this incident and other similar disasters led to the passing of the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act

So today we have safeguards in place to prevent this from happening again including track and trace on most medications and safety sealed packaging.

But back to the Vaping Crisis.  Vaping is believed to be a safer way to smoke.  Vaping eliminates ALL the cancer causing carcinogens related to combustible smoking products and has been proven to help people quit ordinary smoking and thus being a healthier, or less harmful, way to smoke.

And while there is nothing in the Bill of Rights or any amendment on it’s behalf, smoking does seem to hold the same God given right as we give to speech, religion and guns, whether good or bad, we have the freedom to do it and we won’t take away peoples rights to inhale stuff into their body. And I am very confident that Big Tobacco will make sure that Right will never be revoked.

For the cannabis industry, the moment is now to protect its reputation and assure the public that cannabis vaping is not the problem and that their products and the vape supply chain is safe.  A number of leading brands are already doing this by using QR code technology that allows consumers to easily and conveniently verify that the products they are using are safe. 

LucidGreen (LucidID) is a technology company that is helping brands do just that.  LucidGreen’s QR code technology gives consumers peace of mind and important product information as easily as taking a picture of the product with your phone and immediately being able to determine that the product is what it says it is and is safe and not black market unregulated untested product. Some of the industry’s best known brands are using LucidGreen to protect their customers and their brand. Cresco Labs, Wana Brands, Mary’s Medicinals, Ionic, and 20 others are rolling out LucidGreens QR codes on all it’s products on the market.

In order for the Cannabis industry to properly address this unforeseen crisis it must reassure the consuming public that the products are safe and compliant. It’s on the industry to prove that it’s products are safe and the supply chain is secure from counterfeit illegal and possibly unsafe or tainted products.  It can be done and will be the best way for the industry to bounce back from this recent crisis.

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