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Below is a proposal that Straight Hemp has sent to federal and state agencies, proposing the formation of a national workgroup to address the ongoing vaping illness epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Office of the U.S. Surgeon General
U.S. Food & Drug Administration
Federal Trade Commission
The Office of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

From: Devin Alvarez, Founder & CEO, Straight Hemp

Subject: Proposal to create a national workgroup to address vaping-related illnesses

I’m the founder and CEO of Colorado-based hemp company Straight Hemp, and I’m reaching out to leaders of federal and state agencies with a proposal regarding the rising incidence of pulmonary illness associated with vaping products.

My colleagues and I deeply appreciate the work being done by the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies to pinpoint the exact cause of these severe illnesses.

Addressing the public safety crisis to prevent further illnesses and deaths is the number one priority at the moment, and my company is actively participating with industry partners in this regard. We are also calling on our fellow industry members to join us in demanding industry-wide manufacturing standards and regulations. This conversation could not be more urgent, and it requires all of our active participation and commitment to succeed.

This national tragedy has proven that bad actors are taking advantage of the holes in our regulatory system. As part of a widespread and quickly changing industry, simply holding ourselves to stringent safety and testing standards is not enough to protect the public. We must act swiftly, pool our knowledge and collaborate on the national level to prevent future health crises.

Straight Hemp proposes the creation of a national workgroup that would include marijuana and hemp industry companies, state and federal regulators, lawmakers and other relevant stakeholders. This workgroup would develop recommendations and best practices for cannabis vaporizer oil manufacturing, including sourcing ingredients, technology, product testing and labeling, regulatory enforcement and consumer education.

On the state level, we’ve seen regulators take action with temporary bans and collaborating with stakeholders and other state officials to establish new regulations. We’ve also seen industry trade groups call for descheduling cannabis to facilitate research. While these are important steps, it’s not enough.

Bad actors aren’t confined by state boundaries or drug scheduling. We need the resources and reach of the federal government to address a problem of this scale.

We feel it is incumbent on the federal government to form a workgroup with state regulators, industry stakeholders and scientific experts to address the public health threat running amok absent nationwide regulatory oversight.

While this workgroup’s agenda will be guided by the findings of the aforementioned regulatory agencies, investigating the potential culprits, including vaporizer device components, flavoring additives and a variety of “mixing agents” that have been found in vaporizer products, such as propylene glycol (PG or PPG), vitamin E acetate, vegetable glycerin, polyethylene glycol 400 (PEG) and medium chain triglycerides (MCT oil) is of the utmost urgency. Equally urgent is investigating the potential chemical reactions emanating from faulty devices.

The dearth of research about these additive substances as they apply to vaping and their potential health effects when they are heated and inhaled is unacceptable. And while ethical operators already do not use these types of ingredients in their products, the time has come for all of us to act in concert and demand science-based regulations enforced industry wide.

We must move quickly and work together, and this workgroup will help establish the course for research, regulation and education in the interest of public health.

I look forward to your response.

Devin Alvarez, Founder & CEO, Straight Hemp