The night of Friday, Sept. 13, a thunderstorm that was particularly devastating for my neighborhood barreled through Cleveland. Seventy-mile-per-hour winds split 200-year-old oaks and pushed other tall, leafy beauties into homes, cars and power lines. The damage varied in severity block by block. Later it was confirmed that it was a microburst, an event with the force—and randomness—of a tornado.
Also in mid-September, heavy rains drenched parts of Oregon, including Portland, with more rain in the forecast. “Physical damage is possible with heavy rain, but the real threat to outdoor growers is mold,” said Ryan Douglas, a CBT columnist and owner of Ryan Douglas Cultivation LLC.
Oregon has seen other storms with major consequences to the industry—including a typhoon in 2016 that threatened the livelihoods of many growers, including East Fork Cultivars, featured on this issue’s cover. You can read about how they survived that season, and other challenges, in this month's issue.
Another type of storm with big ramifications for our industry also broke last month: Hundreds of mostly young people in dozens of states reported lung injuries after vaping. As of this writing, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and several state and local health departments were still investigating the spate of illnesses, which climbed to 530 cases and eight deaths across 38 states, an epidemic that seemed to explode suddenly, with devastating consequences.
“Based on initial data from certain states we know: Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine,” the CDC, which is leading the investigation, reported on its website Sept. 19. “We do not yet know the specific cause of these lung injuries.”
News reports also indicated that the products most likely came from the illicit market, with many containing vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent sometimes used in untested vape cartridges, but that has not been confirmed. Still, some agencies at the local, state and federal levels suggested consumers steer clear of any vape products—legal or not—until they find a cause.
Cannabis industry leaders, legalization advocates, patients and consumers alike made calls for smart, safe cannabis regulation through federal legalization in response to the news.
It’s unclear what the ramifications for the legal industry are. Reports are mixed in terms of impact. But eight people have died, hundreds more are sick, and no one can tell their loved ones exactly why.
Until the cause of the vape-related illnesses is confirmed, it’s a storm the cannabis industry will have to weather, taking all measures possible for consumer safety and education.