By Joan Irvine
For the last several months, I’ve been writing about youth vaping and the issues it raises for the entire regulated cannabis industry. Legitimate cannabis companies were not responsible for the majority of the illnesses caused by the 2019 vaping crisis. However, many legislators don’t see it this way and equate unhealthy, highly-addictive nicotine with cannabis. They are misinformed, but it is election time!
In light of this reality, a few companies implemented various changes to vaping cartridges and hardware to assuage parents and legislators’ concerns. For example, nicotine industry-leader Juul implemented its “track and trace” technology in their vape pods. The process identifies which retail store sold a specific pod. This sounds good, but if teens are vaping a Juul pod, they probably had a friend who is 21 or older make the purchase. Yet, the retailer will be blamed. While Juul does not sell cannabis products, the company was at the core of the teen vaping problem which unfortunately ensnared cannabis companies in the underage vaping controversy.
A company, Airgrapt, in Montreal, developed some interesting technology that serves several functions. Each of their vaping products has a unique identifier and the vaping device is controlled by a smart phone app. You need to turn on the app to vape, so even if children find the vape pen, they cannot use it. This technology has another benefit—since each vaping product can be identified, if there is an issue with the oil it is easier to implement a recall.
Toronto vape hardware manufacturer Greentank Technologies made waves in the cannabis industry when it launched the GT Spectrum CR series, its proprietary line of lockable, child-resistant certified cartridges. Fully compliant with Code 16 CFR, Part 1700 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, these cartridges are designed so that their mouthpieces cannot be removed once capped, preventing unintended users from accessing the device’s contents. It also gives consumers peace of mind knowing that the cartridges they’ve purchased have not been tampered with in any way after leaving the producer’s facility. Trying to tamper with or remove the mouthpiece on GT Spectrum CRs will damage them, rendering the cartridges unusable.
There is also an excellent side benefit to these technologies. Because children cannot easily use the products, there is less need for elaborate youth-safety packaging. This will save many trees and reduce some environmental waste. From a personal perspective, I find the child-proof packaging annoying. Like most people, including many parents, I just end up cutting it open and tossing it in the recycling bin. So, what all this packaging actually achieves is to make politicians look good and cost the cannabis industry more money. In addition, it’s critical to remember that no one dies from consuming legal, regulated cannabis, especially since most products are limited to 100 mgs.
The industry can do everything possible, but parents still have the main responsibility of raising their children to be ‘cyberethical kids. With the everchanging landscape in technology, this can seem overwhelming. Finally, there is a book that provides easy to use age-based instructions and resources to help parents – ‘Raising Cyberethical Kids – How a Family Acceptable Use Policy Can Make Your Young Digital Citizens Safer, Smarter, Kinder, and More Empathetic.’ Frederick Lane is an author, attorney, educational consultant, and lecturer based in Brooklyn, NY. He is a nationally-recognized expert in the areas of cybersafety, digital misconduct, personal privacy, and other topics at the intersection of law, technology, and society. Lane has appeared on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the BBC, and MSNBC.
I am certain that other companies are developing technologies with similar youth safety benefits. Please let me know, and I would sincerely appreciate it if you would provide your information in the comments area or email me at [email protected]. We need to publicize the industry’s youth safety efforts.
Joan Irvine brings over two decades of technology, policy development, government relations, and advocacy for online child protection in ‘high-risk’ industries to the cannabis industry. She successfully spearheaded an international award-winning parental filtering label and has worked with First Amendment, Internet Security, and Privacy attorneys, international law enforcement and ICANN to establish online child protection policies.