An additive recently linked to vaping-related lung injuries and death would be banned in Michigan under legislation being considered in a state House committee this week.
Taken together, House Bills 5159, 5160 and 5161 would ban the processing and sale of any marijuana or tobacco products that contains vitamin E acetate, making it a misdemeanor and charging civil fines for offenses. They are currently before the House Judiciary Committee for review.
The bills, sponsored by state Reps. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn, Frank Liberati, D-Allen Park, and Joseph Bellino, R-Monroe, would build off of recent actions taken by state officials to recall marijuana products containing the substance.
Late last year, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency halted marijuana vaping sales until they could be tested for the presence of vitamin E acetate. In December, the state recalled thousands of marijuana vaping products that tested positive for the additive.
Vitamin E acetate, which can be purchased legally online, is safely consumed in food and applied to the skin in cosmetic products. When it comes to vaping, Vitamin E acetate can be used as a filler added to THC vaping cartridges – it’s a cheaper substance that dilutes potency.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently pointed to vitamin E acetate as a factor in many of the vaping-related deaths around the country, noting it “may interfere with normal lung functioning” when inhaled through a vaping product, the CDC says.
Hammoud told lawmakers at a Tuesday committee hearing he’s interested in expanding the legislation to include a ban on any vaping additives that aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“The current bill in its current form is a reactive measure,” Hammoud said. “We have an opportunity to make these bills proactive by not just banning vitamin E acetate, but also expanding it to ban any other additive chemical substance that’s added to vaping that has not been approved by the FDA.”
Marijuana Regulatory Acency Director Andrew Brisbo told lawmakers vitamin E acetate can’t be added to vaping products on accident: “This would be a deliberate action to add any of these prohibited chemicals to inhaleable products.”
He said the agency would also be supportive of broadening the language to prevent other unapproved additives from being used, noting it could help protect against any future public health crises as the industry continues to evolve.
Several lawmakers on the panel expressed interest in the bills, although House Judiciary Chair Graham Filler, R-DeWitt, noted the possibility of broadening the legislation’s scope would require further discussion.
“This is a very narrowly tailored to vitamin E acetate bill, and I think that’s the reason that it’s moved this quickly, because everybody acknowledged, ‘Huge issue in vaping causing deaths, let’s go after it legislatively,’” Filler said. “Once we open that up…it makes it a little bit of a bigger bill.”
The bills would need to be approved in the House and Senate and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to become law. Filler said he anticipated a vote on the bills in his committee next week.
There have been 65 reported cases of vaping-related lung injury in Michigan, three of which have resulted in death, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Nationally, there have been 2,602 cases and 57 deaths, per the Centers for Disease Control.
MDHHS recommends people not use THC vaping products, particularly from informal sources like friends or online sellers.