The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) delivered a letter to both chambers of Congress on Oct. 3, 2109 urging its members to promote sensible federal action as reports of vaping illnesses continue to rise. The letter pointed out that the majority of fatalities and illnesses have been linked to illicit vape cartridge products.

The letter, signed by nearly 800 business leaders, advocates, and policy experts, focuses on asking lawmakers to work toward removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that cannabis products can be effectively regulated at the federal level.

In addition to removing obstacles to research, descheduling cannabis would enable the federal government to “establish uniform safety protocols, provide guidance to state regulatory bodies, and help displace the illicit unregulated cannabis market…” noted the NCIA letter.

Attendees at ArcView’s Investor Forum, “The Evolution of Cannabis: 2020” in New York City applauded the NCIA’s effort and stressed the need for regulation.

“We don’t really want or expect much from the federal government, but we would like the feds to provide the cannabis community with the same safety and consumption opportunities that every other human consumption product enjoys,” Steve DeAngelo, president and founder of the Arcview Group and co-founder of California’s Harborside Dispensary, told The Weed Blog.

“The victims of this crisis, the illnesses and the tragic deaths, lie squarely in the hands of the prohibitionists. The US government has known for decades that cannabis is safe,” said de Angelo. “We’re going to have to fix this situation ourselves for now by not purchasing concentrates from the illicit market.”

Executive director of the NCIA, Aaron Smith, echoed de Angelo’s sentiment. “This outbreak of illnesses is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy, and the direct result of failed prohibition policies,” Smith said in a statement.

“It is imperative that lawmakers understand this, and know that the cannabis industry is committed to working with them to help solve this issue and prevent further suffering.”

Regulation not Prohibition

Earlier in the week, prior to the letter to Congress, the NCIA released an in-depth set of recommendations that could be used to establish a federal regulatory structure for different types of cannabis and hemp products through existing federal agencies.

Charlie Bechtell, CEO and founder of Cresco Labs, told attendees at the New York conference that the vaping crisis “screams for regulation, standards and auditing.”

“No disrespect to the victims,” Bechtell said, “but this situation is a lot like the bathtub gin in the 1920s. And prohibition is not the answer. If anything, it’s reckless and dangerous.”

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