In response to the lung injury outbreak, in October 2019, Brown had announced a temporary ban on all flavoured vaping products. “My first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians,” said Brown at the time. The ban was meant to be valid for six months and urged state agencies to develop a plan for warning labels, ingredient disclosures, product safety testing and a campaign to discourage vaping.
The OLCC had moved to enact Brown’s order by banning all THC vape oil products containing flavour chemicals called terpenes, derived from anything but marijuana. Following this, Oakland-based company Herban Industries had sued the OLCC arguing that the ban would cause irreparable harm and the Court of Appeals ruled in favour of the business.
A past flavour ban proposal had been killed
By February the flavour ban was killed completely. “The flavour ban is gone,” said Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, at the beginning of Senate Bill 1577’s work session. Monnes Anderson said she didn’t have the votes in the Senate and attributed that to a variety of concerns lawmakers had, such as the potential hit to state revenue.
In response to these events, the OLCC is now proposing a more limited ban on flavours and thinning agents, focused just on THC vaping products. The OLCC wants to stop manufacturers from being able to mix THC oil with any additive that has not been proven safe to inhale, and will allow ingredients derived from cannabis, like flavour terpenes and cannabinoids, to be added for natural flavoring, meaning that THC vapour can taste like cannabis, but nothing else.
Ongoing discussions for the last 8 months
The recommendations just put forward by the Vaping Public Health Work Group, are the result of discussions regarding the health risks of vaping and public policy that took place over the last 8 months. “In the middle of a worldwide pandemic, it might be easy to forget that less than a year ago, we faced a nationwide epidemic of vaping-related illness,” said Brown. “Now, though, as we are facing the spread of a disease that attacks the respiratory system, it’s even more important that we take steps to protect the health and safety of Oregon’s youth, who have been using vaping products at increasingly high rates.”
“I would like to thank the members of this work group for continuing this important work even as many of them were also on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on these recommendations, we can take long-term steps to ensure that we do not see another outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths, as we did last summer,” added the Governor. The work group’s members include medical doctors and experts in pulmonology, pediatrics and public health, as well as state legislators and state agency representatives.
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