California E-Cigarette Bill Would Restrict Use of Medical Marijuana Vaporizers

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Assembly is considering a bill that would ban the use of e-cigarettes and similar smokeless vaporizers in areas where tobacco smoking is banned.

Though the bill, Senate Bill 648, was approved by the Senate in May as a bill against tobacco e-cigarettes, it would adversely impact use of vaporizers by medical marijuana patents.

Current state law defines e-cigarettes as “device[s] that can provide an inhalable dose of nicotine by delivering a vaporized solution.”  This includes a wide range of vaporization devices now widely used for medical marijuana and other herbs, as well as tobacco and nicotine.

California NORML is urging the Assembly to reject SB 648 on the grounds that vaporizers offer a proven, beneficial “harm reduction” substitute for medical marijuana users by reducing exposure to harmful smoke toxins while at the same time posing no second-hand smoke hazard to the public.

Vaporizers are designed to eliminate the respiratory hazards of smoking by eliminating the combustion that produces the smoke. Regular pipes and cigarettes produce carcinogenic tars, particulates and other smoke toxins that are a byproduct of burning leaves.

Vaporizers don’t produce these toxins because they don’t burn anything, but rather evaporate an underlying solution or preparation of nicotine, cannabis, etc. at much lower temperatures.

Laboratory studies sponsored by California NORML have shown that vaporizers can effectively eliminate carcinogenic tars, benzene, naphthalene, toluene, and other respiratory toxins from inhaled marijuana.

A study by California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research found that vaporizers are an effective alternative delivery system to smoking for medical marijuana users. Vaporizers have since become standard in medical cannabis research and are widely used by patients in places where smoking is banned.

SB 648 would place vaporizers under the same stringent restrictions as tobacco cigarettes, banning their use in public buildings, restaurants, workplaces, hotel lobbies, playgrounds, within 20 feet of exit doors.

There is no evidence that vaporizers pose an appreciable second-hand smoking risk to the public. Users are known to vaporize in elevators and crowded rooms without any detectable odor or adverse notice. Bystanders are routinely exposed to worse emissions from kitchens, grills, garden plants, buses, chimneys, detergents, room deodorizers, gas stations, etc.

In a letter to the Assembly, California NORML warns that SB 648 would adversely impact public health by discouraging safer alternatives to smoking. “Medical cannabis users already find it difficult to find a legal place to medicate under current anti-smoking laws,” says California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, “Precluding the use of vaporizers will only make matters worse. The state should encourage, not discourage, the substitution of vaporizers and e-cigarettes for smoking.”

The Assembly Governmental Operations Committee is scheduled to consider SB 648 on Aug. 7th. Comments should be addressed here.

California E-Cigarette Bill Would Restrict Use of Medical Marijuana Vaporizers was written by and appears in full on The Daily Chronic.

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