Medical cannabis retailers need to be doing more to ensure that their products are contaminant-free.
State officials in Michigan are encouraging medicinal cannabis retailers to have their vape cartridges tested for heavy metals after lead was detected in some products. In a public health and safety bulletin issued on April 12, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs reported that the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR) had identified the contaminated vape cartridges when lab test results were entered into the statewide monitoring system. The tainted products were subsequently destroyed, according to state regulators. The bureau also urged medical marijuana dispensaries to have their product on hand tested and noted that consumers could do the same.
“BMR encourages all licensed provisioning centers to have their vape cartridges tested. Patients and Caregivers who would like to have cartridges tested, at their own expense, can take them to a licensed safety compliance facility,” the bulletin advises.
The bureau has updated regulations to require samples of vape cartridges to undergo lab testing after they are filled. Previous rules only mandated testing for the cannabis oil used to fill cartridges.
Research Finds Heavy Metals in E-Cigarettes
The advisory noted that a Johns Hopkins University study released last year found that lead and other toxic metals including chromium, manganese, and nickel had been detected in the vapors produced by some e-cigarette devices. Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, told Forbes that “the metals detected in this study have been associated with multiple adverse health effects under chronic conditions of exposure. Neurotoxins such as lead are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. The other metals listed are even more nefarious to human organs.”
Able called for government regulation of e-cigarette devices to help ensure their safety.
“It is critical for manufacturers of these delivery systems to design, engineer and manufacture these devices to FDA medical device quality standards,” he says. “To continue manufacturing and marketing these devices to the smoking population without further diligence and clinical review is unethical and unconscionable.”
The BMR noted that Michigan is one of the few states with legal pot that mandates heavy metals testing for cannabis products. When stricter standards for cannabis including testing for heavy metals went into effect in California at the beginning of the year, some vape cartridges were also found to be contaminated with lead. Michigan regulators noted that no vape cartridges with ceramic heating elements had been found to be tainted with lead.
Michigan legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in a 2008 election. In last year’s midterm elections, voters in the state legalized the recreational use and sale of marijuana for adults. Officials are currently creating the regulatory framework for cannabis businesses, but retail dispensaries are not expected to open until next year. Many existing medical cannabis providers may be forced to close if they are not able to obtain licensing under the new regulations.