Washington State officially bans vitamin E acetate in THC and conventional vapes

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) is implementing a new emergency rule WSR #20-12-035 which bans the sales of any vaping product or device that contains vitamin E acetate.  The decision comes on the heels of the controversial EVALI outbreak of 2019 which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined was caused by black market vape cartridges illegally enhanced with the popular dilutive. 

In a second emergency action WSR #20-12-035, the LCB is also requiring the manufacturers of THC-enhanced vapor products to fully disclose all chemical compounds used in the production of their products.  The sources for these compounds must also be clearly identified.

The controversy of vitamin E acetate

In the autumn of 2019, the mainstream media began reporting on a newly evolving “vaping-related lung disorder” occurring within the United States. By November, approximately 1,500 people had reportedly been hospitalized with mysterious respiratory injuries suspected to be linked to vaping.  Sadly, over thirty of those first diagnosed would eventually die from their medical disorder. 

Within just a few weeks, the CDC in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would assign a new name to the strange respiratory ailment:  e-cigarette or vape product associated lung injury (EVALI). According to the CDC’s latest available figures, over 2,800 hospitalizations and 68 confirmed deaths are now attributed to EVALI.

Related Article:  With a whimper not a bang, CDC finally closes the case on ‘vaping related’ EVALI

Throughout the fall and winter of 2019 and 2020, investigators from both the CDC and FDA generically claimed that “vaping products” were related to the disorder.  The implication was that conventional, nicotine-based vapes were to blame.  However, by late February 2020, the CDC officially but quietly announced that contraband THC-infused cartridges laced with vitamin E acetate are the “primary cause of EVALLI.”  A February 25 press release stated the following.

“Due to continued declines in new EVALI cases since September 2019, and the identification of vitamin E acetate as a primary cause of EVALI, today’s release is the final biweekly CDC update on the number of hospitalized EVALI cases and deaths nationally. CDC will continue to provide assistance to states, as needed, related to EVALI and will provide future updates as needed at: www.cdc.gov/lunginjury.”

Understandably, the legalized marijuana industry also came under scrutiny as a result of the ominous disease.  Also in February, the FDA began warning against using any THC-containing vapor product until the whole mess could be sufficiently sorted out.

Advocates of legalized marijuana and leading voices within the scientific community began arguing that legal THC products were not the problem.  Rather, it was more likely the chemical additives – such as vitamin E acetate - used to dilute the THC oil as a method of allowing the final product to be vaped most comfortably by the vaper.


After the publication of multiple laboratory studies on EVALI patients proved that vitamin E acetate is strongly associated with the lung injury crisis, the LCB immediately took notice.  One of the very first states to officially legalized marijuana, the LCB justifiably wanted to avoid placing harsher restrictions on the Washington State cannabis industry if such actions were not duly warranted.  So, the LCB eventually decided to go after the potentially deadly chemical additives instead.

“The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (Board) adopted an emergency rule providing that no person including, but not limited to, a person licensed under chapter 69.50 RCW, may sell, offer for sale, or possess with intent to sell, or offer for sale vapor products containing vitamin E acetate.
“This notice can be found at lcb.wa.gov/laws/laws-and-rules.”

Interestingly in early 2020 , the Washington State Congress tried and failed to pass a bill - SB 6254  - that attempted to criminalize the sales of vapor products using vitamin E acetate.  However, the bill also contained legislation that would place much more restrictive regulations on the vaping industry as a whole. 

Luckily, HB 2826 failed to gain traction, and a revised bill - HB 2826 – was passed by both houses of congress in March, 2020. HB 2826 grants the LCB the legal authority to regulate or abolish any substance found in vape products that “may pose a risk to public health.” Currently, the LCB is only focusing on the banning of vitamin E acetate, saving both the legalized marijuana and nicotine-based vapor industries potentially substantial government over-regulation. 

Related Article:  Public Health England releases new vaping research amid praise by advocacy groups

(Images courtesy of Shutterstock)

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