NBC News Lab Test Illustrates Opportunities and Challenges for the Cannabis Industry

In response to the mysterious lung illnesses that are being linked to black market vaping products, NBC News recently conducted a study 15 black market vape carts. The result confirms what many regulators suspected. 13 of the 15 carts tested tested positive for Vitamin E acetate. This solvent is used to cut the amount of cannabis. However, if it enters the lungs, it has been known to trigger an immune response that causes pneumonia. The study also showed that all 15 black market carts also tested positive for the fungicide myclobutanil. When burned, this substance can turn into hydrogen cyanide. 

Many states are issuing vaping bans. And the CDC has also released a statement saying that most of the vaping-related illnesses were due to marijuana. All of this would seem to be bad news for an industry that does not need bad public relations. 

But the testing, and related conversation, surrounding the vaping illnesses is highlighting the need for regulation. The cannabis companies welcome this. In fact, the NBC study also tested three vaping carts that came from a legal dispensary in California. Each cart came from a different manufacturer. Those cares came back clean. This supports the point that many cannabis companies are making. In a regulated market, consumers will have access to safe products. 

However, although there is consensus on the need for regulation, the federal government is struggling to regulate this market. One issue is that marijuana is not legal at the federal level. Many states have approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and a growing number are also legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. However, without federal regulation, the regulatory path is unclear. 

Many cannabis companies were providing optimistic forecasts because of the advent of Cannabis 2.0. This next stage of the cannabis movement will start in October when Canadian regulators give the go-ahead for CBD products like edibles and oils to be sold. Another part of this stage is the introduction of CBD for use in vaping products. The success of these products in a regulated Canadian market may provide a catalyst for changing the political climate in the United States. 

And make no mistake about it. As much as the cannabis companies are gaining access to many international markets with more progressive attitudes about legalization, the United States is the market that these companies need to access in order to drive the economies of scale that will be necessary to make these companies profitable. 

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