The former head of the FDA has said that the conflict between the federal and state marijuana laws has created regulatory gaps which have given chance to tainted or substandard products to enter the market, resulting in the fatal lung injuries that have been reported recently. He hinted that federal action could put an end to this problem.
In a series of tweets, Scott Gottlieb said that the permissive marijuana laws of different U.S. states cause him a lot of worry since they give adults unfettered access to recreational marijuana and yet there are no federal regulations to oversee the production and manufacture of those marijuana products.
In tweets over the weekend, Dr. Gottlieb admitted that illicit vape cartridges, including those that may contain CBD and THC, seem to be behind the spate of lung problems that have so far killed five people and injured hundreds more across the country.
Experts are of the view that those vape cartridges may have contained ingredients not sanctioned for use in vape products (vitamin E acetate, for example) and those ingredients become deadly when they are inhaled.
In a TV appearance, the former FDA commissioner said that states legalize recreational marijuana when they don’t have the capacity to regulate the industry properly, while the federal government which has this needed capacity remains aloof since marijuana is a controlled substance. And when problems arise, states blame the federal government for those problems.
Gottlieb hinted that there is a need for the federal government to rethink its position on marijuana so that it can be possible for legitimate entities that wish to conduct research on the substance to do so.
Without saying marijuana should be federally legalized, Gottlieb’s statement about the need for federal oversight suggests as much because the FDA can only oversee an industry that is legal under federal law.
He also said that under the current legal regime, the FDA may be unable to regulate any vape pens that aren’t intended to be used by the tobacco industry. Making the necessary change would require congressional action, he added.
It appears as though the country is at the same point that it was decades ago just before the prohibition of alcohol ended. At that time, people died after consuming tainted alcohol sold on the black market, and a decision was made to legalize alcohol so that the industry could be legalized. Could the injuries and fatalities attributed to illegal vape cartridges be likely to result in the federal legalization of marijuana?
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