FDA May Ban Marijuana E-Cigarettes: Antismoking Propaganda?
I ran across on article on ecighub.com, which is a site composed of all user-created material. The title of this article is Will The FDA Ban The Dangerous Cannabis E-Cig? As expected, I immediately started fuming – Not because I advocate illegal drug use or marijuana e-cigs or any of that, but because of the insane propaganda the FDA employees, and the increasing (and selective) jurisdiction it arbitrarily assumes. I mean, how dare they! Just how much authority does it think it has? For crying out loud – You can legally buy a crack pipe at any gas station, but the FDA is going to ban e-cigarettes “intended” for vaping THC???
The issue here should be, of course, that of illegal marijuana use, not the “instrument of crime” facilitating it’s use. I’ve heard of empty toilet paper rolls being used with various substances – but I never heard of a proposal to ban the rolls…. An extreme analogy, but it works. Well, maybe not – since the FDA never had jurisdiction over toilet paper rolls…. Um, no, it works.
It would also be about marketing and promoting the use of illegal products. If a store advertised a glass pipe as a handy way to smoke weed in style, on planes or in the workplace, I really don’t think the DEA would much appreciate the FDA stepping up to handle the issue via a ban on glass pipes. FDA has jurisdiction over food products, to some degree cosmetics and supplements, LEGAL drugs (or drugs intended to be legal), harm reduction tobacco products, and the marketing of traditional tobacco products. If this is the direction they’re going and nobody stops them, next up they’ll be trying to ban loud rock concerts, guns and bungee jumping because of the potential harm to health. Another extreme analogy, but it’s my blog.
But anyway, before I got too worked up, I wanted to find the source of the story, so I clicked the link provided. Not good enough. Start searching. Most references to the story were found in e-cig and vaper sites, still not good enough. I finally found reference to it on Tobacco.org that seemed like it might provide an agency source. Nope. Just linked to PRLog.org, a free and open press release service. Still, it seemed I had found the original authors and article:
The authors appear to be John F. Banzhaf III, a professor of Public Interest Law at GWU, and Dr. William Cahan of the World Technology Network. Cahan is also the Executive Director of and Chief Counsel for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), “America’s First Antismoking Organization.” It’s possible these individuals are simply being listed as contact persons, but I’m thinking not.
According to the press release: Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), America’s first anti-smoking and nonsmokers’ rights organization, serves as the legal action arm of the anti-smoking community. It is supported by tax-deductible contributions.
Uh. That’s interesting. Still, my intent here was not to discuss antis and where their funding comes from, but to find a credible source for the “news” that the FDA is trying to ban “marijuana e-cigarettes.” Unfortunately, I have thus far failed at that. The press release provides links to two online merchants; one marketing Cialis ejuice and another marketing the marijuana device (this last site has been pulled down). And it (attempts to) attribute two “quotes” expressing concern about the issue by including links to the main page of two different blog sites. There are several other “third person” quotes attributed to Banzhaf (possibly one of the authors) and to the ASH agency itself.
There’s no indication how or where AHS got the information that the FDA wants to ban “marijuana e-cigarettes.” Don’t get me wrong – I’m ready to cry FDA foul at the drop of a hat, and there’s a lot to cry about. But it doesn’t serve any purpose if you don’t know exactly what you’re crying about. Not only do you get caught up in moot arguments, but you get distracted from issues that really need to be addressed.
Regardless, it’s my duty as a journalist to find out the article’s source, so I contacted the author of the press release via PRLog.org‘s “contact the author” form:
Hello, I read your June 2010 press release on the possible FDA banning of marijuana e-cigarettes. I would like to find out your source regarding the FDA’s position on this. I’m aware of the agency’s position on e-cigarettes in general, and it’s desire to regulate e-cigarettes as drug delivery devices, but I was unaware of discussion specifically targeting marijuana e-cigarettes. Frankly, I was unaware there was a specific device designed for vaporizing marijuana, but what interests me here is the FDA’s official position on them and how they have addressed it thus far.
Thank you, etc.
I’ll dig around a little more, and certainly update this entry if I receive a reply from the authors, but I suspect this press release was intended to “bring awareness” to the horrific potential this device could have on public health and our youth. It’s to let readers know that people will be walking around in public stoned and dangerous, as will the bus drivers, cashiers and factory workers. It’s to help people realize that if the e-cigarette isn’t dealt with, marijuana fumes and soon, crack fumes, will be everywhere – including right under their noses, waiting to assault their brains, and their children’s brains….
Update – Reply from press release author, John Banzhaf:
From: Prof. John Banzhaf, GWU & ASH
Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2011 5:00 PM
Subject: Re: Your Press Release 10763429 on PRLog
Thank you for your recent communication. As you might imagine, I receive hundreds every day, and can only personally respond to a small number.
Since I generally cannot answer questions, provide advice or specific information (except as shown below), or take many other actions which are suggested no matter how praiseworthy they might be, I often must say that I’m sorry that I can’t provide the individual response requested.
However, you may be able to find information about me and the various activities in which I have been involved by visiting the following websites and using appropriate search techniques:
Smoking, Nonsmokers’ Rights, and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH): http://ash.org/
Professor of Public Interest Law, and many anti-discrimination and consumer activities: http://banzhaf.net/
Potty Parity: http://banzhaf.net/pottyparity.html
PROFESSOR JOHN F. BANZHAF III
Professor of Public Interest Law at the George Washington University Law School,FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor, FELLOW, World Technology Network, and Special Counsel to
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA
Date: April 17, 2011