Wednesday October 16, 2019

Massachusetts Impose its Ban on All Vaping Products, Including both Nicotine- and Cannabis-Based Products

The 32-year-old massage therapist has a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from childhood trauma

Massachusetts, Vaping, Products
FILE - Vaping pen devices are displayed at The Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) trade show in New York City, New York, May 30, 2019. VOA

In the first few days of the four-month ban on all vaping products in Massachusetts, Laura Lee Medeiros, a medical marijuana patient, began to worry.

The 32-year-old massage therapist has a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from childhood trauma. To temper her unpredictable panic attacks, she relied on a vape pen and cartridges filled with the marijuana derivatives THC and CBD from state dispensaries.

There are other ways to get the desired effect from marijuana, and patients have filled dispensaries across the state in recent days to ask about edible or smokeable forms. But Medeiros has come to depend on her battery-powered pen, and wondered how she would cope without her usual supply of cartridges.

“In the midst of something where I’m on the floor, on the verge of passing out, my pen has been very helpful for me to grab,” she said. She carries her vape pen in her purse in case of an emergency, but has only one cartridge left.

Massachusetts, Vaping, Products
FILE – Marijuana edibles are displayed for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California, Jan. 2, 2018. VOA

Massachusetts imposed its ban on all vaping products, including both nicotine- and cannabis-based products, in response to mounting concern about the potential serious health risks. Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, said the ban would last at least four months while new legislation and regulation is explored.

More than 800 cases of a vaping-related lung disease and 12 deaths across 10 U.S. states have so far been reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers are expected to climb.

More than three quarters of those with the respiratory illness reported vaping THC, the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. Many of them used small e-cigarette cartridges, or “carts,” bought on the black market, where the risk of adulterated products is high.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but a growing number of states allow it for medical or recreational use.

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Massachusetts is one of 10 U.S. states that allows both uses, along with the District of Columbia.

Some marijuana users had long eschewed vaping even before the ban, often on the advice of doctors who saw the cocktail of compounds being inhaled into lungs as risky.

“I have advised against the vape carts for my patients for a long time exactly out of suspicion of basically what just happened,” said Dr. Ryan Zaklin, a doctor in Salem, Massachusetts. “Who the hell knows what they’re putting in them?”

Some patients like vaping because it is more discreet than traditional burning of marijuana “flower.” The devices are small, produce a relatively odorless “vapor” and is fast-acting: a handheld device rapidly heats liquid compounds into an aerosol that can be inhaled into the lungs.

Massachusetts, Vaping, Products
In the first few days of the four-month ban on all vaping products in Massachusetts, Laura Lee Medeiros, a medical marijuana patient, began to worry. Pixabay

Many of those patients are now asking their doctors or dispensaries about edible forms of marijuana, liquid tinctures that can be dropped under the tongue or old-fashioned flower buds and pre-rolled joints for smoking.

For Medeiros, who lives in the small coastal city of Peabody, other methods are a poor substitute. She found that edibles take time to take effect, typically about an hour.

Tinctures seemed to her similarly slow-acting. And rolling a joint while her vision is closing in and she is hyperventilating from a panic attack is nearly impossible, she said.

Unexpected blessing

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Medeiros wishes medical marijuana patients had been given time to stock up on the products they use before the ban went into immediate effect.

Pressed on such concerns, the governor has not been swayed to change his decision over what he said was a public health emergency.

“There are many alternative uses available to people who currently have prescriptions for medical marijuana and they should pursue those,” Baker told reporters last week, according to local media.

But some public health experts have warned the ban may drive more people toward riskier black-market, totally unregulated vape products.

At the New England Treatment Access (NETA) dispensary in Brookline, near Boston, which has become one of the biggest suppliers of medical marijuana since the drug became legalized in the state in 2012, several patients said they view the ban as an unexpected blessing.

Denise Sullivan, 62, uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of her leukemia. She had vaped for more than a year, but stopped after she heard about the ban. During the period she vaped, she contracted pneumonia five times, she said, and now believes that might have been vape related.

“I can tell when I vape I am more congested not in my lungs but in my sinuses,” she said. She plans to use edibles, which she said kick in with enough time to treat her pain.

Kate LeDoux, 49, had a similar experience. She is a runner and used medical marijuana to help recovery from recent foot surgery. LeDoux stopped vaping a few weeks ago after seeing the news about the lung disease, turning instead to edibles and smoking.

Almost immediately, her “weird cough” cleared up and her running times improved, she said. “Now I know it was 100 percent the vaping.” (VOA)

Next Story

UN Calls People to Favour Products Containing Plastic Recycled from Waste

Manufacturers, meanwhile, need to improve designs so that a product’s plastic components are more easily recovered for recycling, use recycled plastic in their products, and advertise that feature to consumers

Carpets, Rugs, Plastic Waste, Biodegradable, Recycle
The rugs manufacturer and exporter emphasises green and responsible production using non-polluting manufacturing practices and conservation of energy and materials as far as possible. Pixabay

A European Commission-funded project supported by the UN is calling for consumers to demand electronic and electrical products made with recycled plastic, and for manufacturers to redesign products to both improve recyclability and integrate recycled plastics in new products.

The call is made by PolyCE (for Post-Consumer High-tech Recycled Polymers for a Circular Economy), a multinational consortium led by Fraunhofer IZM and universities– UN University, Bonn; University of Ghent, Belgium; Technical University Berlin; and University of Northampton, Britain, civil society organisations (European Environmental Bureau), and numerous companies — including Philips and Whirlpool.

The 20 partners launching the two-year campaign are based or operate in nine countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, Finland, the US and Britain.

According to the Nordic Council of Ministers, plastics account for about 20 per cent of all materials in electronic and electrical equipment, most of it not designed for recovery and reuse.

The PolyCE consortium is launching a two-year campaign to raise awareness among consumers and manufacturers in order to change their attitudes towards recycled plastics and improve their market uptake.

Says project partner Kim Ragaret, University of Gent: “Plastics are a valuable resource with a great potential for circularity. Plastics themselves aren’t the problem; our so-called plastics problems relate to attitudes and waste management.

Plastics are essential for making many different components of electronic and electrical products, including phones, computers, TVs, vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and household appliances.

According to PolyCE consortium experts, products can be designed in ways that make material recovery of plastic components easier.

Of the more than 12 million tonnes of e-waste expected next year in Europe (EU, Norway and Switzerland), an estimated 2.5 million tonne (23 per cent) will be plastics.

Campaign, Plastic, Waste
Plastic waste is seen on the River Tisza near Tiszafured, Hungary, Oct. 1, 2019. VOA

That’s the weight equivalent of 62,500 fully-loaded 40-tonne trucks — enough to form a line from Rome to Frankfurt — and 2.5 times the 1 million tonne of plastic landfilled as e-waste components in the year 2000.

The PolyCE consortium noted a report from Sweden that, globally, just 10 per cent of higher grade plastics from durable goods is recovered and recycled worldwide today, which compares poorly with average 50 to 90 per cent recovery and recycling rates for metals and glass.

The project illustrates through a number of demonstrators that making electronic and electrical equipment containing high-quality recycled plastics is economically feasible for manufacturers, and the products are just as long-lasting and durable as those containing virgin plastics.

In addition, buying electronic and electrical equipment containing recycled plastics offers many other benefits for the environment.

Recycling plastic would not only take pressure off waste systems (in Europe, some 31 per cent of plastic waste still enters landfills while 39 per cent is incinerated) every tonne recycled would also help avoid up to 3 tonne of CO2 emissions created making new plastic.

A recent consumer survey carried out by the PolyCE project found that half of respondents did not know if they had ever bought a tech product that included recycled plastic.

Of the 25 per cent who said yes to the question, 86 per cent noticed no difference in quality, appearance or performance.

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Informed about the health and environmental benefits of recycled plastic components in electronic and electrical equipment, 95 per cent of those surveyed confirmed that they would buy products with that feature.

According to the survey, consumers show high willingness to act in line with the circular economy, but actual engagement is still pretty low, unfortunately. But communication is key.

“The consumer has absolutely vital role in a sustainable, circular economy and manufacturing system,” says UN University e-waste expert Ruediger Kuehr.

Manufacturers, meanwhile, need to improve designs so that a product’s plastic components are more easily recovered for recycling, use recycled plastic in their products, and advertise that feature to consumers. (IANS)