What was on page 5,136 of last year’s Covid Relief Bill? You know, the legislation meant to govern relief efforts for the global and domestic damage caused by the recent response to the Coronavirus pandemic? A shipping ban for any kind of vape product, both cannabis and non-cannabis. Weird place to put it, huh, kind of like it was being hidden. So, why is this vape ban happening? And how will such a law effect products like delta-8 THC?
Ugh, the US government is at it again! Starting the end of March, vape products will no longer be able to be sent through regular mail services. While this ban doesn’t make a lot of sense, and we sure hope it doesn’t hold, it does mean that right now is your last chance to order products online. Check out our awesome Delta-8 THC deals and take advantage of mail systems while we can still use them.
Under the cover of night legislation
Before getting into why the vape ban is happening, let’s take a look at the circumstances of how it happened. When we think of legislative measures, there is often a misconception that any legislative measure is directly related to the subject matter at hand, with nothing superfluous, or unrelated attached to it. So, for, say, a legislative relief measure to deal with the economic fallout from a pandemic, the expectation would be that it would contain solely legislative measures related to fixing the economic fallout related to the pandemic.
The Omnibus Appropriations and Coronavirus Relief Package bill was passed by congress late last year, and as the word ‘omnibus’ implies, it is a bill that encompasses legislative measures for several different topics, some completely unrelated to the pandemic. It’s a tricky move because the name of the bill implies something very specific, with everything not on topic creating an amalgamation of laws that have nothing to do with each other. These add-ons that are unrelated to an original bill, are often called ‘riders.’ It’s an under cover of night measure of passing legislation. It makes it confusing for the public to know it’s happening at all, and is done for that reason.
Other methods of under cover of night law passing include passing legislation on holidays, passing legislation in the very early morning or middle of the night, withholding draft bills from public view, and passing legislation when more controversial news stories are dominating the press in order to keep attention off a legislative measure. Since omnibus bills by nature can have many unrelated component parts, they are often used to hide unpopular legislation, or to pass measures that might otherwise require ongoing debate.
The thing that this current situation implies more than anything else, is secrecy. The government didn’t create a bill to cover this subject by itself, or do much to let the public know about it. It stuck the legislation in a place where no one would see it until it passed. So the first thing we can consider in our question of why this vape ban is happening, is that it wasn’t desirable for the government to have the public know this was coming.
A little history on smoking and vaping
The history of vaping actually goes back to 1930 when Joseph Robinson was granted the first patent for an electronic cigarette, though it’s unclear if a prototype was ever made. For the most part, the fad of vaping became a big thing in the mid-2000’s. The 1990’s were actually a strong time for the filing of patents related to vaping equipment, but it wasn’t until 2003 that Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik created the first commercially viable vaping product.
His company Golden Dragon Holdings manufactured the product, changing the name to ‘Ruyan’. The market really exploded in 2006 when electronic cigarettes made their way to both Europe and the US.
When it comes to the idea of the dangers of smoking, and how long information has been out there, consider that as early as 1602, an author made a connection between chimney sweepers and lung cancer, and that tobacco might have a similar effect. In 1795, Sammuel Thomas von Soemmering of Germany reported on a growing awareness of a possible connection between pipe smokers and lip cancer. Three years later, in 1798, US physician Benjamin Rush began writing about the harmfulness of tobacco smoking.
In the 1920’s official medical reports started being added to the growing pot of information. Since cigarette companies were big advertisers in press publications, many publications refused to publish information on this growing understanding, so as not to offend companies that were giving them lots of business. Between the 1950’s and 1960’s, major studies were published, essentially ending actual debate over cigarettes not being dangerous. Even so, as late as the year 1960, only 1/3 of doctors in the US believed that cigarettes were causing this damage. The government did literally nothing for decades.
And while lung cancer seems pretty standard in this day and age, prior to the boom in cigarettes in the last couple centuries, lung cancer was such a rare occurrence that doctors took special notice. According to this study: The history of the discovery of the cigarette-lung cancer link: evidentiary traditions, corporate denial, global toll, from 2013, approximately one lung cancer death is caused per 3-4 million smoked cigarettes, with 1.5-2 million deaths occurring per year.
Almost regardless of whatever is in vape cartridges, it will not be as bad as smoking, and we know that already just by looking at injury numbers. Some will definitely argue that why the vape ban is happening is related to health issues, but I think it’s been made perfectly clear through history and medical research, that lighting the cigarettes on fire is really the biggest culprit.
The current vape ban
What is this ban which was passed quietly, almost unbeknownst to most Americans? It’s a ban on the shipping of vape products, not on the actual use, production, or sale of them. And it doesn’t actually specify anything about cannabis, because cannabis vape products fall under the general term of ‘tobacco products’, according to the Federal Law for Control of Tobacco Products from 2008.
The ban is for tobacco vaping products being shipped through UPS, FEDEX, or USPS. This does not mean companies cannot sell products, or ship them through the mail, but it does mean that companies selling tobacco or cannabis vape products after March 28th, will have to use a different delivery system.
Since cannabis products fall under tobacco products, this means anything cannabis-related, like CBD, would also be a part of this. In a way, it’s a ban that isn’t technically a ban, as there is no ban on any company or individual. This means the US government is not trying to legally stop people from using these products, or companies from making them, but it does seem to be trying to determine how the public can get products, and what products will be available to them.
Dangers and regulation
CBD has become pretty available worldwide, with a growing acceptance of it, even if the rest of the cannabis plant is taking longer. And regardless of the few stories that do come up about issues related to vaping deaths, the numbers are nearly irrelevant. According to the CDC, since the inception of vaping, there have been all of 2,807 hospitalizations and 68 deaths by this time last year. This number (which is for the entire time vaping has been active) just doesn’t compare to the harm of actually smoking.
It’s as dumb as saying cannabis might be as dangerous as alcohol, even though one produces a negligible number of deaths, and one is a leading cause of death. Even with an unregulated system, and tons of horrible possible additives, the danger is still so unrealistically small compared to lighting up, that the whole thing is not only silly, but dangerous, as it makes a safer option harder to get to, and the dangerous option way more available.
That’s the thing about this topic, the vape scene is nearly entirely unregulated, and a lack of regulation means one general fact: the government loses out on tax money, and larger corporate enterprises lose out on revenue to smaller independent companies. The government might want to say that it cares about your health, but it also failed to fully regulate the tobacco industry until 2009, it’s not telling you not to use the products, all reports point to issues with additives and not the compounds themselves, and the government is fully in favor of letting companies sell these products.
But it does stymie businesses. CBD vape retailers will have just as much of a hard time as e-juice companies in getting their products to people, and many of these products are already approved. And then there are gray-area issues like delta-8 THC. The US government has had a difficult time dealing with delta-8 as it has created a legal loophole related to industrial hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation, production, and sale of hemp-based products, but THC and all derivatives fall under schedule I of every drug treaty.
Why the vape ban targets delta-8 THC
So, we have a compound and everything related to it being illegal on one hand, and the ability to source that same compound in a legal way on the other hand. The government put out the Interim Final Rule in 2020 on hemp and hemp derivatives to try to clear up the mess. The rule reinforces that all ‘synthetically derived’ THC is still illegal, but even that hasn’t been able to stop the delta-8 THC industry, and the semi-legal sale of THC. This is because, whether delta-8 THC is considered synthetic, is also up for debate.
Delta-8 THC can’t be grown on its own, or processed individually. Anyone who wants it has to actually buy it, and often times it’s significantly cheaper to buy online. This ban means that if someone wants a product that just can’t be found in their area, that they’re simply out of luck, and this could be bad news for delta-8 THC since so many sales are online. It, does, however, act as a partial answer to why the vape ban is taking place, though. Sure, it could be that the government suddenly cares what you’re smoking, even though it doesn’t seem to care what’s in your food, and didn’t care a bit about your lungs for decades even with medical report after medical report.
Or, it could be that the government doesn’t want to lose more tax revenue, and that this makes it harder for people to buy gray-area items that governments don’t profit from. It says a lot that the government isn’t saying that anything is illegal, but instead is trying rather hard to make the process difficult for buyers.
Who knows whether this ban will really stick, or if it’ll be knocked over in court next month? Perhaps it would be more useful to citizens if the government could work on regulation standards instead of passive-aggressively trying to keep citizens from products that it can’t control the sale of. Maybe if it were fentanyl it would matter more, there would be more reason to get behind the ban. But it’s not fentanyl. And as dicey as the vaping industry is, it just doesn’t rack up a noticeable death toll to necessitate any extra measures, particularly anything more than alcohol, tobacco, or opiates receive. Why is the vape ban happening? Because the US government can’t control the industry.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a medical professional, I have no formal legal education, and I’ve never been to business school. All information in my articles is sourced from other places, which are always referenced, and all opinions stated are mine, and are made clear to be mine. I am not giving anyone advise of any kind, in any capacity. I am more than happy to discuss topics, but should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a professional in the relevant field for more information.