This article by Willis Jacobson was originally published on WeedWeek, and appears here with permission.
After two years of having its image battered in the public consciousness, and sales slowing as a result, the cannabis vape industry appears headed for a bounceback. If operators want to keep that momentum going, though, they will need to be proactive, warned a prominent industry advocate.
Gregory Conley, president of the New Jersey-based American Vaping Association (AVA), is among those bullish on the future of the cannabis vaping space, but he knows that growth won’t come easy.
Vaping products, including those containing THC, faced an image crisis in fall 2019 after an outbreak of a debilitating and sometimes fatal lung condition later attributed to a chemical used in some unregulated and counterfeit products. Just as the legal industry distanced itself from that public relations disaster, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a whole new set of challenges.
In early 2020, medical professionals raised concerns that smoking or vaping cannabis or nicotine might increase the likelihood of severe COVID-related illness. The existence of such a relationship remains unclear, particularly regarding vaping, as research is limited and different sides have used that dearth of data to draw opposing conclusions.
That hasn’t stopped some groups from developing and pushing narratives, Conley said.
“The anti-vaping prohibitionists have shamelessly used COVID as a cover to justify trying to take away these [nicotine vape] products from adult consumers,” said Conley, who noted he is currently tracking some 350 vape-related bills in local and state governments. “They haven’t really targeted cannabis vaping – because that is not their issue, yet – but there …