From August to November 2019, the nation was rocked with a crisis. Over 2,200 individuals were affected by e-cigarette or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI), with over 47 individuals dying in 25 states. And with the growing popularity of vaping as a safe alternative to smoking, the crisis left the cannabis industry in quite a precarious position.
“The popularity of vaping is a central pillar of our forecasts of the future growth of cannabis sales, so it’s crucial for cannabis industry professionals to understand the impact the vaping crisis will have on the market and how best to adjust business strategies in its wake,” stated A Review Market Research and BDS Analytics.
While the crisis provided the anti-marijuana movement with ammunition against the nascent industry, marijuana reform advocates claimed that most of the cases were in states where marijuana was illegal. And according to a study published in an American Medical Association Journal, it seems they may have been right.
After analyzing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data (CDC) on EVALI cases, researchers found that people in states where recreational marijuana is legal were significantly less likely to experience vaping related injuries than those in states where recreational marijuana is illegal.
The crisis was traced back to contaminated vaping cartridges, and people were more likely to find such defective vapes on the black market, compared to retail stores that sell tested and approved products. Published by the JAMA Network Open, the research letter shows that states with recreational marijuana shops had 1.7 EVALI cases per 1 million people while states without had 8.1 cases per I million people.
“The data suggests that EVALI cases were concentrated in states where consumers do not have legal access to recreational marijuana dispensaries. This association was not driven by state-level differences in e-cigarette use, and EVALI case rates were not associated with state-level prevalence of e-cigarette use. One possible inference is that the presence of legal markets for marijuana has helped mitigate or may be protective against EVALI.”
The researchers surmised that it is “possible that people in recreational states tend to purchase marijuana products at legal dispensaries, which may be less likely to sell the contaminated products that are thought to cause EVALI.”
This proves the theory that many industry stakeholders and observers have put forth: legalization is a great way to set quality control standards and ultimately, safeguard public health.
“It appears states that have legal access to marijuana have lower rates of EVALI cases which is consistent with the hypothesis that people have demand for marijuana products, and in states where they don’t have access to them in this regulatory fashion, they end up purchasing them elsewhere,” says study co-author Alex Hollingsworth.
These research findings are likely to vindicate cannabis industry players like The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) who have always believed that consumers have a chance to consume high-quality products when cannabis is legalized and regulated.
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