Proposed regulations in Missouri requiring warnings for vape pens has attracted ire from cannabis activists in the state. Credit: Elsa Olofsson / Unsplash

Proposed changes to Missouri medical marijuana regulations by state regulators could lead to significant changes for cannabis dispensaries including the ability to sell cannabis clones, creation of drive-thru lanes, and new rules allowing promotion of price discounts.

“As we did with the initial rounds of rulemaking for the medical marijuana program, we are posting draft revisions to our website for public feedback,” said Lyndall Fraker, the state’s medical marijuana program director in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Dan Viets, executive director of Missouri NORML, says the new rules allowing for dispensaries to sell clones and seedlings is long overdue.

“As one of the authors of Article XIV, I think I can speak for everyone who was part of that process,” Viets said, referring to the state constitution section legalizing medical cannabis. “We always intended dispensaries to be able to do that, but I have to admit, we did not say that clearly. So, I’m very happy and Missouri NORML is very happy that DHSS is apparently going to allow dispensaries to sell clones and seedlings.”

The proposed rules changes also allows for greater flexibility in dispensary advertising, allowing them to promote discounts and pricing. Current DHSS rules state, “Dispensary facilities shall not disburse medical marijuana as part of a promotional event,” which the agency interprets as a limit on price promotions.

“The best interests of patients are served when they have the opportunity to be fully informed of competitive pricing. Competition will not work if people are not allowed to have the information, they need to make informed comparisons,” Viets stated.

On the other hand, Viets is not happy with language in the amendments requiring dispensary owners to display vaping signage that warns of possible health-related issues and death.

“It just doesn’t make sense to make people fear something which is not a threat,” Viets said. “I just don’t think that’s supported by science.”

The warning signage, according to the updates, will need to be posted at each point of sale, in no less than 20-point font, that reads “WARNING: “Vaping cannabis-derived products containing THC has been associated with cases of severe lung injury, leading to difficulty breathing, hospitalization, and even death.”

Fraker says he is aware of Viets’ concerns regarding vaporization warnings and will consider them with all other feedback prior to making any decisions about revising the relevant regulations.

According to a 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive, most notably in THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products and usually does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, research suggests that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.

As of February 18, 2020, a total of 2,807 lung injury cases or deaths relating to e-cigarette, or vaping, were reported to the CDC. There were 68 confirmed deaths in 29 states and the District of Columbia during that same time frame.

“There is no reason to believe that Vitamin E is part of the manufacturing process of legal cartridges sold in the state of Missouri. The proposed language of the warning signs fails to acknowledge this very important fact.” 

Following feedback review the agency will determine whether to post additional or modified revisions for feedback. 

Public feedback ends today. The submission form can be found on the DHSS website.

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.