To help keep illicit products off the market, the industry is pleading for federal regulation for better control and testing.
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News of unregulated THC and e-cigarette vapes suspected to be causing illnesses and deaths are sweeping the nation, with a CDC report claiming that up to 530 possible cases of severe lung disease, and eight fatalities, may have been caused by vaping in at least 33 states. The majority of patients reported purchasing products from the black market.
While the investigation is still ongoing, as officials have not yet identified any single substance or product with ties to all cases, the news creates urgency for the legalization and regulation of the cannabis market nationwide.
How The Federal Ban Hurts The Country
Similar to the Prohibition Period with alcohol, the cannabis industry is struggling to fight issues caused by an unregulated black market. As of 2019, 33 states have legalized cannabis for medicinal use, and 11 are legal for recreational use — yet, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug (the same classification for heroin and LSD), which makes it federally illegal.
Without marijuana legalized federally, states scramble to create and enforce regulations within the fast-growing market, often leading to confusion surrounding laws and health standards. In return, officials on both state and federal levels are left uneducated about the plant, hurting the economy when resources are misused.
The economy also suffers from the banking issues created. Due to its classification as Schedule 1, U.S. banks and credit unions refuse to approve loans from hopeful cannabis businesses for fear they could lose their federal backing and FDIC insurance. This makes it extremely difficult for legitimate cannabis companies to access capital and operate safely. If businesses were allowed access to banking — which they are in Colorado — it’s proven to boost the economy when taxed in a regulated market.
Perhaps the most dangerous outcome the federal ban has created is a thriving black market — one that is now suspected to be responsible for illnesses and deaths across the country.
Published: October 16, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News