Hawaii Health Officials Pull CBD Products Following First Vaping-Related Lung Illness
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Hawaii Health Officials Pull CBD Products Following First Vaping-Related Lung Illness

The question of regulated and unregulated CBD products has vexed state and federal officials for at least the past year.

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September 17, 2019

The question of regulated and unregulated CBD products has vexed state and federal officials for at least the past year, and Hawaii has now signaled which tack its public health overseers will take: The state is cracking down on CBD products sold outside licensed medical cannabis dispensaries and removing them from commercial shelves, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. 

Earlier this month, Hawaii health officials reported their state’s first case of vaping-related lung illness, the latest in an expanding wave of concerned pulmonary ailments associated with vaping devices and contents. A teenage girl was airlifted from the Big Island and hospitalized on Oahu; nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 380 “confirmed and probable cases of lung disease” (a lower count than earlier news reports).

While it’s unclear whether these illnesses are stemming from concentrated cannabinoid vape products or flavored e-cigarettes or other product categories entirely, the anxiety over vaping technology’s safety has reached across the country. The hundreds of illnesses reported by the CDC span 36 U.S. states.

“We are very concerned about the safety of CBD products on the market,” Hawaii Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson told lawmakers in the wake of headlines. “We’re going to be looking at products that are targeted toward kids, like gummy bears and candies that are shaped like animals, and of course any vaping products that has CBD, given the history of illness associated with that.”

The process in Hawaii may now mirror other states’ recent crackdowns on CBD products. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly insisted that CBD, as an active ingredient in an approved pharmaceutical drug, may not be included in food or beverages sold commercially. States, like California and Ohio, have followed that argument and raided the non-licensed-dispensary businesses that often sell CBD gummies, seltzers or vape cartridges.

“The big issue with unregulated hemp products has to do with (the fact that) we don’t know where the CBD is coming from,” Anderson told state legislators. “If it’s not tested, really, they don’t belong on shelves. A lot of things can cause the kind of pneumonia showing up and killing people, which should be scary to you. It really, honestly poses a general threat.”