Regulations of the Cannabis Industry From the Cannabis Plant to Vaping
The United States's relationship with marijuana dates back to the Colonial Era. American production of hemp (the cannabis plant) was encouraged by the government in the 17th century for the production of rope, sails, and clothing. Domestic production of hemp flourished until after the Civil War when imports replaced hemp. In the late 19th Century, marijuana became a popular ingredient in many medicinal products.
Cannabis has been used across the world for ages so the idea that this is an evil drug is a very recent construction. In fact, marijuana has been legal in many regions of the world for most of its history. For approximately 5000 years marijuana was not only legal, but an important crop among cultures throughout history, and held commercial, medicinal, and spiritual value. Today, we struggle with regulations and legislation because of cannabis, at the start of the previous century suddenly became a danger to society.
HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN THE U.S.
To understand how we ended up here, it is important to go back to what was happening in the United States in the early 1900’s just after the Mexican Revolution. At this time there was an influx of immigrants from Mexico into states like Texas and Louisiana. Not surprising, they brought their native language, culture, and customs. One of these customs was the use of cannabis as a medicine and relaxant. Mexican immigrants referred to this plant as “marihuana” while Americans were very familiar with the term “cannabis”.
At that time, cannabis was present in almost all tinctures and medicines but only became a problem when the “disruptive” Mexicans popularized it. Little did Americans know that the plant was already in medicines they had in their medicine cabinets. The demonization of the plant was an extension of the demonization of the Mexican immigrants in an effort to control and keep tabs on these new citizens. The idea was to have an excuse to search, detain and deport Mexican immigrants. That excuse became marijuana. During hearings on the marijuana law in the 1930’s, claims were made about marijuana’s ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales.
This method of controlling people by controlling their customs was quite successful, so much so that it became a national strategy for keeping certain populations under the watch and control of the government. This national strategy saw the plant being scheduled as a very dangerous drug. It was in 1996 that California became the first state to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes, ending its 59-year reign as an illicit substance with no medical value. Currently, 23 states, plus Washington DC have passed medical marijuana laws. However, more of the general public wants to keep marijuana under lock and key, especially in light of the racist and propagandized basis for making it illegal in the first place.
CANNABIS IN SAN DIEGO
San Diego has a history of bitter rejection of California medical marijuana laws dating back 20 years. Since it became the first state to prohibit ‘recreational’ marijuana use in 1913, Californian’s have voted on legislation and rejected it twice. The debate to legalize cannabis intensified in 2016 with the Californian ballot initiative. This initiative stimulated the legal framework around the legalization of the plant. Today the medical marijuana landscape in California has altered significantly bringing new sets of issues to tackle, namely vaping.
VAPING I - PROBLEMS
A vaping device or vapor product is a battery-powered inhaler that simulates tobacco smoking. It is designed to provide inhaled doses of e-juice by vaporizing the flavored liquid and then simulating the effects of smoking by vaporizing the liquid, which the user inhales and exhales. This method has become a popular way for consumers to use their herb. Vaping became the new target for regulatory bodies and is being categorized as “dangerous” and “addictive”. Ruling regulations body, the FDA, has declared war on vaping with what they call the deeming regulations. This has made it particularly difficult for vaping companies to regularize themselves. The sheer scale of the regulatory burden is very likely to be the death of many independent manufacturers and vape stores in the US.
While the rule has some positive provisions, such as banning sales of vaping products to anyone under age 18 and requiring warning labels, it also placed extremely burdensome and expensive requirements. The vaping industry, particularly small manufacturers and vape shops will come to an immediate halt if not amended. The main issue with this regulation is the timeline given to complete it. Manufacturers and shops need more time and were recently barely afforded 3 months extra. While the extension is appreciated, it will not help most vape manufacturers and shops remain in business in the long run.
VAPING II - SAN DIEGO
Claiming to protect people from a potentially dangerous product, San Diego joined several other local cities prohibiting e-cigarettes which are also classified as “vaping”. Labelled as a dangerous product is furthest from the truth and can potentially cripple an otherwise thriving industry. VaperHighUSA is one of the several companies in San Diego County looking to capitalize on vaporizers. It is documented that an increasing number of smokers have turned to vaporizers as a safer and less harmful alternative to burning tobacco or cannabis.