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Oregon Considers New Safety System After Cannabis Vape Products Recall

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Kristian Foden-Vencil / OPB
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Oregon regulators are considering new rules on vape ingredients and asking for a voluntary recall of certain products.

Oregon wants some cannabis vape manufacturers to recall products that might cause lung injuries.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is asking for a voluntary recall of two potential cannabis vape ingredients: squalene and squalane. They’re derived from olives and have been used to dilute the liquid that goes into vape pens so it can easily vaporize.

The agency said the ingredients have been linked with Vitamin E acetate and the safety problems that put thousands of vapers in the hospital with lung damage last year.

OLCC spokesperson Mark Pettinger said commissioners will meet this week to consider a mandatory ban on the ingredients and, perhaps more importantly, a more stringent product review process.

“We can go and pull samples of stuff off the shelves and get it tested,” he said. “But if we find ingredients or additives that are injurious, or potentially injurious to public health, there’s very little we can do right now.”

Much of the recalled product has already been bought and consumed, but some remains on the market. Bulk Naturals LLC, which does business as True Terpenes, used squalene and squalane to make a product called “Viscosity.” It in turn was used to make cannabis vaping products by the Bend company Oregrown.

Consumers can verify whether items are subject to the recall: They will be labeled “Oregrown PAX Era D9 Elite” and have the identification number 2520. They will also have been made before Aug. 31, 2019.

Pettinger stressed that Oregrown did not know Viscosity was potentially harmful and stopped selling it as soon the OLCC reached out.

“Oregrown in this situation is not a bad actor … they are a poster child for a licensee that stepped up,” he said. “When we said, ‘Hey, we believe there’s a problem,’ they were basically, ‘What can we do to help? What can we do to track this down?’”

The OLCC statement on the recall said: “OLCC recently commissioned a study that determined that when exposed to heat, squalene and squalane produce harmful chemicals. It has also been documented that inhaling squalene has been associated with exogenous lipoid pneumonia. Initial evidence about these additives also suggests a potential for consumer harm similar to that already proven about Vitamin E Acetate.”

Oregon regulators have been concerned about the presence of undisclosed ingredients in cannabis vaping products and examining non-cannabis additives over the last year.

At the OLCC Thursday meeting, the commission will consider new rules for cannabis vaping products that would establish greater accountability for non-cannabis ingredients used in cannabis vaping products.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.