ST. LOUIS — A medical marijuana trade group wants Missouri health officials to issue strict vaping regulations as the number of people in the United States suffering from vaping-related lung illnesses continues to rise.
In a letter Monday, Andrew Mullins, executive director of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, asked Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, to help it "diminish the black market" by issuing rules on vaping additives, testing and labeling before legal medical pot sales begin in 2020, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Federal health officials have said that many of the roughly 1,600 people with vape-related illnesses this year were using black-market products containing THC, the compound that gives marijuana its high.
"With Missouri preparing to award hundreds of medical marijuana facility licenses in the coming months and begin regulated retail sales of lab-tested medical marijuana early next year, it is incumbent that we continue to work together to safeguard public health — and diminish the black market," Mullins said.
Gov. Mike Parson on Oct. 15 directed his health, education and public safety departments to develop a public health awareness campaign to discourage vaping within 30 days.
At the time, Parson called the program a "first step" and noted that he was awaiting additional research and federal guidance.
Williams said recently that it was too premature for the state's health and senior services department to consider issuing new vaping rules. Neither he nor medical marijuana director Lyndall Fraker immediately responded to a request for comment on the trade association's recommendations.
Last week, federal health officials acknowledged that they were still examining a wide range of products and chemicals that could be causing the vaping-related illness outbreak.
Meanwhile, Mullins said the suggestions included input from the group's "membership, industry experts and national organizations such as the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Cannabis Industry Association."
The recommendations comprised of outlawing vaping products that contain "lipids or lipid-based thinning agents such as medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil" and clearly labeling "active and inactive ingredients in marijuana-infused products."