Industry News

The New York cannabis industry opposes the ban on flavored vape products


The New York Cannabis Vape Standards Coalition is a consortium of invested parties dedicated to advocating for high-quality standards in vape ingredients that promote industry expansion, align with public health concerns, and enhance consumer options. These stakeholders encompass licensed New York adult-use processors, brands, retailers, and ingredient manufacturers. Our collective viewpoints are shaped by extensive experience.

In the recently revised adult-use regulations, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has implemented a ban on some of the most popular vape products in the market. Specifically, in § 123.6 (9)(vi) of the processor operations section, "flavors" that are prohibited from any inhaled product include ice cream or gelato, vanilla, cereal, candy, chocolate, dessert, concept flavors, and soda. There is uncertainty regarding whether this ban only pertains to the product's name or if inspectors will also be restricting products with similar flavor profiles - leading to confusion among producers and dispensaries responsible for ensuring compliance.

A review of popular dispensary menus suggests that up to 25% of vapes currently available would now be banned - many of which are simply named after cannabis strains. This new ban extends beyond current packaging, marketing, labeling and advertising regulations (PMLA) that prohibit marketing appealing to youth but notably exempt strain names.

The New York supply chain is in its early stages of development. Dispensary operators are facing competition from numerous illicit stores that are unlikely to comply with the new ban, while cultivators are struggling to secure funding for their ongoing operations. Vape products utilizing the "flavors" prohibited by § 123.6 (9)(vi) are highly popular among consumers, and the sudden unavailability of these products on New York shelves will drive customers back to the illicit market. Additionally, vapes account for a significant portion of cannabis extract usage, which is a crucial source of revenue for outdoor cultivators.

Consumers opt for vapes due to their convenience and preference for flavor profiles resembling popular flower strains such as gelato and cereal milk. The ingredients used to replicate these flavors are identical to those naturally found in the cannabis plant.

If New York were to implement this strict ban, consumers would likely turn back to the illicit market or travel across state borders to Massachusetts or New Jersey – where similar prohibitive regulations have not been put in place. We urge OCM to reconsider this ill-conceived ban, which could significantly impact the regulated supply chain financially, and instead utilize existing regulations that prevent labeling or marketing appealing to youth.

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