A cannabis distribution company filed suit against the state of Oregon on Thursday to halt the state’s temporary ban on flavored vape products.
The company that filed the motion, Herban Distribution, is the parent of DYME Distribution, the sole distributor of Winberry Farms’ flavored (and unflavored) weed vape cartridges. Last month, Governor Kate Brown enacted an emergency six-month ban on all flavored vape products to combat nicotine and weed marketing that allegedly targeted children.
Health officials in Oregon pushed for the ban to counter the vaping-associated pulmonary injury or illness (VAPI) crisis that has hospitalized nearly 1,900 people and killed at least 37— and those numbers are climbing at an alarming rate by the day. Health officials still don’t know what’s causing the crisis, but the CDC suspects contaminants from black market vape products may be to blame.
“To state it plainly, there is simply no evidence to support the commission's decision to prohibit flavored cannabis vaping products," the lawsuit stated. "This defect alone renders the vaping prohibition an invalid exercise of agency rulemaking authority, although the court need not wade into these issues to stay enforcement."
To be fair, Gov. Brown’s emergency vape ban exempted marijuana vapes flavored with terpenes naturally found in cannabis. However, weed vapes that include artificial flavoring or are flavored with terpenes found in other plants besides cannabis fell under the ban.
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Herban Distribution’s lawsuit follows a similar motion filed by a nicotine vape producer two weeks ago, Willamette Week reported. The nicotine company, Vapor Technology Association, jointly filed suit against Oregon with several state-based vape shops. On Oct. 17, an Oregon Court of Appeals halted the ban for nicotine vapes, but not for weed vapes. Herban anticipates it can convince the court to extend the halt to cannabis vape products, too.
"Customers are definitely worried; they're worried that they're not going to be able to get their e-liquids — flavored e-liquids — which are the things that are helping them keep from smoking," the CEO of ECBlend Flavors, a nicotine vape company, told a local CBS News affiliate just days before the ban went into effect.
"We're just trying to make sure that we educate everybody to let them know if you want your favorite flavors, you need to get them now. We are seeing people stock up," he continued.
Now, the plaintiffs must prove to the court that the ban has unnecessarily harmed their businesses. Herban Distribution claims the ban, which started Oct. 15, has caused it to lose 80 percent of its revenue. In addition to lost sales, Herban also claims that its retail partners are demanding it buy back the banned products or issue credits, which could potentially bankrupt the company if it is forced to honor those buy-backs.
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