This story has been updated with new information provided by Michigan Supply and Provisions in Morenci and Greenstone Provisions in Ann Arbor.
LANSING, MI — When recreational marijuana sales commenced in Michigan Sunday, Dec. 1, none of the $221,000 in sales involved THC vaping products.
That may soon change, multiple marijuana business owners tell MLive.
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency on Friday, Nov. 22 temporarily halted the sale of any existing vaping products, which contain THC distilled from marijuana, until they’ve been tested for the presence of vitamin E acetate. It also banned any future production of vaping products using vitamin E acetate, said it will conduct compliance inspections at processing facilities and is requiring manufacturers disclose all additives.
The Centers for Disease Control suspects vitamin E acetate may have contributed to 47 deaths and 2,290 illnesses nationwide, including a death and 56 cases of illness in Michigan, based on the latest figures. The first cases arose in March and the outbreak peaked in September, according to the CDC.
Vitamin E acetate is a cutting agent used to dilute extracted THC. This allows manufacturers to include less product in each cartridge and increase profits.
The state Department of Health and Human Services advised the public not to use any vaping products containing THC, especially if obtained “off the street.”
PSI Labs in Ann Arbor, the only business licensed to test recreational marijuana products in Michigan, has only found it in unlicensed, black-market vaping products, said Lev Spivak-Birndorf, the chief science officer and company co-founder.
The vitamin E acetate test takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and is conducted independently of other state-required vaping product tests.
“We were approved last week officially by the state … and started ripping through the backlogs,” Spivak-Birndorf said. ” … Over the next few days to coming weeks your going to begin seeing more vapes being released.”
James Daly, the owner of Arbors Wellness in Ann Arbor, said his store plans to have some tested vaping products for sale Tuesday.
Exclusive Brands, also in Ann Arbor, expects the return of tested vaping cartridges in about seven to 10 days, co-owner Omar Hishmeh said.
Bartek Kupczyk, director of retail sales at Greenstone Provisions, said his small dispensary is still waiting on test results and he doesn’t have a good idea of when it may be completed.
“We get calls all day, are we selling vapes ,are we selling vapes,” he said. “And the answer is, no. we cant have them legally on our shelves.”
Michigan Supply and Provisions owns a retail location that opened in Morenci Sunday evening. Manager Coleman LaBarr remains uncertain when vaping stock might return.
“We’re currently working with PSI,” LaBarr said. “They’re the only ones currently testing and we’re rotating stock back to them for retesting. It’s a pretty extensive process.”
Spivak-Birndorf said the lab has samples from some but not all vaping products it’s previously tested. In those cases, the lab may test the sample and clear the associated batches of product for sale. In cases that involve batches separated and distributed to dispensaries across the state, the sample testing becomes more complicated. In some cases it’s more expensive than simply destroying the untested product and cutting losses, Spivak-Birndorf said.
He couldn’t immediately quantify the untested vaping product backlog.
Marijuana Regulatory Agency spokesman David Harns declined comment for this story.
— Gus Burns is the marijuana beat reporter for MLive. Contact him with questions, tips or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter, @GusBurns. Read more from MLive about medical and recreational marijuana.
More on MLive: