BOSTON—Following a Superior Court ruling and investigative findings from the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), the Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) on Tuesday issued a quarantine order for marijuana products and devices that rely on vaporization or aerosolization, including, but not limited to, vape pens, vape cartridges, aerosol products, and inhalers, in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Massachusetts. The Commission’s quarantine order does not apply to medical-use marijuana vaping devices designed exclusively for marijuana flower.
As part of an ongoing investigation into a nationwide outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping product use-associated lung injuries, on Friday, November 8, the CDC reported “direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs.” Their announcement came three days after Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled the Commission is the single state entity authorized to regulate marijuana.
On Thursday, November 7, the Commission voted unanimously to begin a process of developing regulations relative to medical and adult use of marijuana vaping products and reaffirmed the Executive Director’s authority to take administrative action to protect the public health, safety, or welfare. Additionally, the Commission is formally requesting that the Department of Public Health (DPH) provide the Commission with all information it has collected regarding cases of pulmonary illness reported from September 24 to November 7, 2019. The Commission will continue to coordinate with DPH to monitor and evaluate causes and findings related to associated lung injuries in Massachusetts.
The Commission’s existing testing regulations and protocols do not require testing for vitamin E acetate. Based on current manufacturing processes, it is possible that legal marijuana products sold in the state could contain vitamin E acetate or other potential ingredients of concern. As part of the Commission’s quarantine order issued Tuesday, licensed Marijuana Establishments and Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers are required to quarantine products on administrative hold in the state’s mandated seed-to-sale tracking system of record.
The Commission is communicating with Independent Testing Laboratories to understand their capability of testing for ingredients such as vitamin E acetate. Currently, the Commission’s regulations require all marijuana products to undergo contaminant testing, including testing for heavy metals, by an Independent Testing Laboratory accredited to the International Organization for Standardization 17025 (ISO/IEC 17025: 2017) and in accordance with the Commission’s Protocol for Sampling and Analysis of Finished Medical Marijuana Products and Marijuana-infused Products.
In September, following the Governor’s declaration of a vaping public health emergency, the Commission issued memoranda to licensees, patients, and clinicians and circulated a voluntary, anonymous survey to licensees to understand the ingredients and sources of additives used in marijuana products manufactured in Massachusetts. The Commission is analyzing the response data as part of an initial investigation. As part of its 2019 regulatory process, the Commission also strengthened existing labeling requirements in order for patients and consumers to have more information about the ingredients used in items such as marijuana concentrates and extracts including the additives infused or incorporated during the manufacturing process such as specific thickening agents, thinning agents, and terpenes.
The Commission’s forthcoming regulatory process regarding adult and medical use of marijuana vaporization products will be open to public comment and focus on the requirements for extracts, concentrates, and any accessories or devices used for vaporizing marijuana. In their vote Thursday, the Commission agreed to set standards for ingredients, labeling, testing, sourcing, storage of marijuana products intended for vaporization, the manufacturing and consumption processes of marijuana products and marijuana accessories, and more. More information about the regulatory process will be announced later.