Last Tuesday, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) released a report linking illicit markets to the current vaping health scare that has led upwards of 2,700 being hospitalized for lung illnesses and 60 deaths related to using a vape device in the last year.
In the report (with recommendations from over 30 industry professionals as part of NCIA’s Policy Council and Safe Vaping Task Force), NCIA states many things need to improve before legal, licensed, cannabis companies can beat out companies illegally pushing harmful and potentially fatal products. NCIA executive director Aaron Smith told Marijuana Business Daily, “The root of this problem is that the illicit market has yet to be replaced by the legal market.”
The report goes on to state in California, illegal retailers outnumber licensed and regulated marijuana businesses by a ratio of approximately 3-to-1.3. “In addition to unregulated additives like vitamin E acetate, pesticides and heavy metals have been found in dangerously high amounts in illicit market products,” and “important for manufacturers to do their due diligence, invest in research and source suitable materials for their products.”
Target areas include:
- Lowering financial burdens for licensed companies – in particular, reducing taxes on legal marijuana products.
- Implementing methods for identifying counterfeit products.
- Making it easier for unlicensed companies to enter the legal market.
Smith goes on to urge cannabis business owners work harder to “educate regulators about the difficulties of doing business in states such as California with heavy regulatory burdens and high taxes, which leads to inflated prices and drives consumers to seek out cheaper products on the illicit market,” and “executives from marijuana companies and their staffs also might help to educate consumers about the safety of licensed products as well as the benefits of shopping at legal stores – such as product safety,” with the report itself stating “is important for manufacturers to do their due diligence, invest in research and source suitable materials for their products.”
Smith also said that a lot of marijuana products are not regulated or minimally regulated at the federal level and “in the absence of (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulation, it’s incumbent upon industry actors to ensure they’re utilizing material that’s considered safe for consumption.”
And with that, I urge YOU to only buy from legal, licensed stores and DO NOT be afraid to ask your dispensary’s budtender as many questions as you need about what products they carry and their qualities. If they’re worth their salt, they’ll have no problems giving you the advice you need.