Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is temporarily banning all vaping products—both nicotine and cannabis, including flavored and unflavored products—claiming a public health emergency. Massachusetts is the first state to ban THC oil vaping products. Recreational cannabis sales are legal in the state.
Both Michigan and New York State imposed similar bans last week. The governors of all three states have imposed bans as executive actions based on “public health emergencies.” None has attempted to go through the usual legislative process. Charlie Baker is a Republican, while Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are Democrats.
The governor will request the state’s Public Health Council order the bans at a meeting today, according to MassLive. If the council approves the ban today, it will be effective immediately, and will last for four months. Local departments of health will work with police to enforce the ban.
The action is in response to the nationwide outbreak of “vaping-related” lung injuries, which are primarily connected to black market THC oil cartridges. The CDC reports hundreds of cases across the country. Massachusetts has 61 cases being investigated, according to the governor, and has reported three confirmed cases to the CDC.
“I’m declaring this public health emergency because medical and disease control experts have been tracking a rapidly increasing number of vaping related illnesses that in some cases have led to death,” Baker said at a press conference. “We as a Commonwealth need to pause sales in order for our medical experts to collect more information about what is driving these life-threatening vaping-related illnesses.”
Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner Shaleen Title tweeted that the governor’s ban is a “terrible decision. Purposely pushing people into the illicit market — precisely where the dangerous products are — goes against every principle of public health and harm reduction. It is dangerous, short-sighted, and undermines the benefits of legal regulation.”