Massachusetts medical marajuana cardholders will be able to purchase cannabis vape products again on Tuesday after the state’s Cannabis Control Commission refused to extend Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s controversial four-month vaping ban to vaping products used by cardholders.
This CCC decided not to uphold Baker’s ban after Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled Baker’s Department of Public Health did not have the authority to regulate cannabis products used by medical marijuana patients, according to the ruling.
Wilkins made his decision after a grassroots medical marajuana advocacy group filed a memo to the Superior Court arguing that the CCC is the only regulatory body in Massachusetts with the power to regulate cannabis products used by medical marijuana patients.
Baker enacted his highly controversial four-month ban in response to a recent surge in reports of vaping-related lung illness throughout the country. The ban involved restricting the sale of all vaping products across Massachusetts until January, and included both nicotine- and THC-based vaping products.
Multiple groups challenged the ban in court, including the group whose memo was eventually accepted by the Superior Court.
Peter Bernard, a representative from the Massachusetts Grower Advisory Council, wrote in an email his organization also advocated against Baker’s ban on vaping products used by medical marijuana patients.
“We are in support of the lift and in fact visited the governor’s office about it,” Bernard wrote. “Ultimately the ban is lifted and we see this as a good thing for patients. That action returns a needed products to patients.”
This change in policy comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced Friday, one and a half months into the ban, that Vitamin E acetate, an additive sometimes used to dilute or thicken THC vaping liquids, was likely responsible for the recent cases of vaping illness, according to the CDC.
Bernard wrote medical marijuana card holders can rest assured that they will stay safe.
“Cheap cartridges from overseas can and do leech heavy metals into the vape liquid,” Bernard said. “But, there are safe materials to use in vaping products … lab tested products such as MMJ vape should not be kept from patients. We have the toughest testing standards on the continent when it comes to cannabis in Massachusetts.”
Back Bay resident Getulio Silva, 52, said he thinks Wilkin’s decision will be good for medical cannabis cardholders.
“I feel like if you’re a medical user, then the lift makes sense. If not, then I think the ban makes sense,” Silva said. “I mean, as long as the items are certified by the state, then I think it should be fine.”
Chris Quartararo, 28, of Melrose, said he still questioned the safety of vape products, pointing to the numerous deaths caused by vape products that incited the original ban as a sign of caution.
“For both medical and recreational use I just don’t think there’s enough research or evidence to say one way or the other,” Quartararo said. “I would say it’s always better to be more on the conservative side rather than the liberal side when it comes to health.”
Back Bay resident Robert Ajemian, 40, said he thinks Baker’s ban should continue, but supported lifting the ban for medical marijuana patients.
“I think it’s important for vaping to be banned, especially how it targets the youth with ‘fun flavors’ and stuff — but for medical users, lifting the ban makes complete sense,” Ajemian said.