FDA Looks to Put an End to “ENDS”

business news Feb 22, 2020

Cannabis companies could be caught in the middle as the FDA cracks down on tobacco products using the Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), as outlined in a recent announcement. 

The main concern is that many cannabis oil pens and vapes are similar to tobacco vape products and use the same electronic systems as the ENDS products, potentially putting these products in question as well. Therefore, even though it is a gray area, cannabis business owners are advised to take note. 

Although the statement from the FDA does not call out cannabis products specifically, it is expected that companies in the cannabis space will have their products, the cartridges for the products, their delivery systems, and their marketing and advertising methods scrutinized. Also, the lack of uniform cannabis product policies across all of the states may prompt the FDA into action. The beginning of the announcement seems to show that this is a good possibility: 

“Although this guidance does not address products that are not tobacco products, the outbreak of lung injuries associated with use of vaping products illustrates public health and safety concerns that may arise for products for which information related to product safety and health impact are lacking and affirms the importance of the premarket review process, as contemplated by the Tobacco Control Act, to scientifically evaluate products based on a public health standard.”

To curb the youth epidemic that is associated with JUUL usage, the FDA is seeking to reduce access to ENDS and e-cig cartridges that cater to minors. The main concern is that in marketing e-liquid products, they’re often advertised using colors and flavorings that the FDA might conclude resemble “kid-friendly food products." Similar marketing is currently being conducted for THC vape and CBD pens, which may cause them to be included in the crackdown even if they’re not being marketed to minors. 

In addition to many complaints to the FDA about ENDS products, a CDC report from 2019 was also cited as a reason for the crackdown and potential regulation. The quality control of supply chains providing the products has come into question as it was found that one-sixth of patients that developed lung injuries from vaping marijuana purchased the products from legal dispensaries. 

In the announcement, the FDA offers three guidelines that business owners are wise to be proactive in implementing. Cannabis business owners, especially those in e-commerce, should also plan to act to avoid potential steep fines and penalties. The guidelines include:

  • Establishing or enhancing programs, such as mystery shopper programs, to monitor retailer compliance with age-verification and sales restriction 
  • Establishing and enforcing contractual penalties for contracted retailers that sell tobacco products to youth
  • Using age-verification technology to better restrict access to the manufacturer’s website, such as through independent, third-party age- and identity-verification services that compare customer information against third-party data sources

Source: Green Entrepreneur

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