As a licensed caregiver, I serve patients dealing with complex medical issues, including cancer patients. So it is critical that my variety of cannabis products is free of soil contaminants, pesticides or additives, lest they interact with patients’ myriad medications and compromised immune systems.

For years, we have purveyed our own vape cartridges that combine oils and resins from our own licensed medical marijuana garden with high-quality cartridge blanks because control of the supply chain is the best way for us to guarantee the product. We, of course, test our products using independent third-party labs to ensure patient safety.

Much attention has rightfully been placed on the contents of the vape but little on the cartridges themselves. Vaping is the delivery system, but the oil inside is housed in a cartridge blank. The same way you can buy after-market car parts, cartridge blanks are also purchased like this. The lesser-quality cartridges, sold to anyone with a debit card, often have cheaper metal parts, which may lead to leaching of metals, and the knock-off packaging makes the potentially harmful cartridges harder to discern. While high-quality cartridges are available, many unlicensed sellers buy the cheapest available.

This is frustrating for two reasons. First, businesses like mine care deeply about the health of our community and people of all ages. We are concerned that young people vaping Juuls or tobacco – ostensibly underage and less understanding of product quality – are facing life-threatening illnesses because of nefarious interests. Second, when bad products hurt people, it creates a backlash against all products, including the vast majority of medical cannabis products that are safe.

In addition to the cartridge quality, the quality of the flower used in cartridge making could be inconsistent and potentially dangerous. Hemp and cannabis plants clean toxins out of the soil (e.g., hemp has been used to remediate the heavy metals at Chernobyl). While this is good for the soil, it also means that those toxins are now in the plant itself. If these toxins were concentrated or smoked, they could be harmful. It’s fine to use the plant for the stalk, but not for personal consumption. If a cultivator had poor soil quality, that could affect the quality and safety of a concentrated oil made from that grower’s product.

Cultivated cannabis or any live-grown agricultural product can also have mold and pesticide issues that could cause problems if it’s smoked or inhaled. This is the primary reason credible third-party product testing for microbials and reasonable limits for cannabis and hemp products is important, and why we at All Kind prioritize testing before bringing harvested products to market.

As far as the mystery lung disease, the Food and Drug Administration has tested the associated tobacco vape cartridge concentrates and is finding that vitamin E acetate, an oil form of the vitamin, has been present in each case. While people can ingest it safely, it causes serious problems – even death – when vaporized at certain temperatures.

While the immediate concern centers on the vitamin E acetate, the fact is poorly grown cannabis is also ending up in cartridges that are then vaped. As we examine the appropriate response to this new lung disease, let’s also have a conversation about regulating bad cannabis actors out of the market so we don’t end up with a new problem down the line. However, let’s also be clear: Banning vape pens outright will cause more problems because it will send people to the very black market that caused this problem in the first place.

We all have a vested interest in protecting the people in our communities, but we do that with rational public policy that gets to the heart of the issue or, as Gov. Mills rightly pointed out, with science. While other states are banning vape pens, and some companies are choosing not to carry them, here at All Kind, we are proud to continue carrying them for patients because it is an important method of delivery for many people. We look forward to working with regulators to ensure every business is putting science first – with high-quality products and good manufacturing practices, for the safety of everyone.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.