Gottlieb throws nicotine vaping a lifeline; calls for fed regulation of cannabis

News reports out of California are now linking all cases of the mysterious lung disorders throughout the state to the vaping of unregulated cannabis products containing THC.  Since the story first began to surface, the global vapor community has accused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of mishandling their public warnings about the events.  With mainstream media consistently publishing headlines casting the respiratory diagnoses as “vaping-related,” public health experts like Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University have been demanding the release of the supportive CDC documentation behind these disturbing clams.

On September 6, Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb posted a tweet that provided the vaping community with some much-needed political cover.  “Based on current reports it’s likely to be case most of the vaping injuries are related to illegal products and mostly THC and CBD. It’s not clear FDA can regulate vape pen not sold for use with tobacco nicotine. Congress may need to expand FDA’s authority.”


Gottlieb is not considered a close friend of the American vapor industry.  Vaping activists largely blame the former FDA chief for the vast confusion in the general population regarding the health benefits of e-cigarettes for adult smokers.  Several recent polls now show a growing percentage of Americans now mistakenly believing that vaping and smoking are equally as lethal. 

For Gottlieb to post a tweet that attempts to shine the accusatory spotlight away from FDA-regulated vapor products and onto the unregulated marijuana industry is a big step.  However, this may also be an ominous signal of what is about to occur within the legalized cannabis movement nationwide.  If the vaping industry is any example, marijuana farmers and dispensaries may be in for a very rough ride in the coming months and years if the public outcry for government cannabis regulation escalates further.   

Mainstream media still not getting the message

However, the e-cig industry is not out of the woods yet.  Even as news began breaking of Gottlieb’s tweet, its underlying message seems to have fallen on deaf ears.  Many in the mainstream press continue to publish headlines that strongly imply that the generic term “vaping” is still to blame for the recent outbreak.  Even The Washington Post article posted in Gottlieb’s tweet is titled with an obvious anti-vaping bias: Scott Gottlieb: E-cigarettes are not off the hook.

Even CNBC – where Gottlieb is a paid contributor who appears regularly on shows like Squawk Box to discuss health issues of the day - did not perform much better.  Just days after the Gottlieb tweet, the news outlet posted a CNBC article entitled, “It’s time for a ‘federal reckoning’ in the wake of vaping-linked deaths, says former FDA chief.” In both instances, neither headline contains the words THC, cannabis, or marijuana, and both completely ignore the fundamental point that Gottlieb is trying to make; Nicotine vaping is not the issue at hand.  Marijuana vaping is the real and significant danger.

Related Article:  Siegel on vaping-linked lung news: Why is CDC ‘protecting marijuana drug cartel?’

However, Gottlieb himself appears to be trying to clean up the confusion – sort of – during a live interview  on Squawk Box later in the week where he makes the following statements.

“Based on the information we have right now what we’ve seen from these state reports, it looks like these are going to be illegal vapes – largely vapes with THC or CBD in them., so, cannabis or cannabis-derived vaping products. It doesn’t look like these are legitimately legally sold vapes that contain nicotine products that are sold by the big brands.”
“Those are ‘not safe.’ They still can cause harm.  We still believe they can cause chronic lung injury with prolonged use, but it doesn’t appear that they are causing the acute lung reactions that we’re seeing right now…”
“People who are vaping nicotine and having these reactions probably are vaping illegal products that are counterfeit.  We have to have a federal reckoning here.”

The “federal reckoning" to which Gottlieb is referring seems to be targeting Black Market e-liquids across all industrial spectrums including cannabis-based, CBD or cannabinols, as well as illegal nicotine cartridges.  While his strong verbal stance in defense of “legitimately legally sold vapes” is truly appreciated by vaping activists, the American vapor industry will likely retain much of the public blame for this catastrophic event which has claimed a suspected five deaths so far. 

Related Article:   Farsalinos calls U.S. reports of so-called vaping-related lung disease ‘irrational hysteria’

(Image courtesy of CNBC)

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published