There is an issue with the impending and almost certain development of electronic cigarettes for marijuana use — and it’s largely regulatory. As more states loosen restrictions on use of marijuana for medical and recreational reasons, the mass market of THC electronics seems more and more likely.
Let’s ignore for a moment that we’re all stick-in-the-muds that can’t handle the idea of people using marijuana even if it’s for medical reasons. Let’s assume that the open recreational use of marijuana is not so unlike the use of alcohol.
The problem arises in that even the recreational use of marijuana requires pretty significant regulation and restrictions on how the product and its related devices are manufactured and sold. As we mentioned before, regulators like to keep things confined to as few regulatory categories as possible. They also like to regulate on the side of caution (more rather than less). This is how they make sure they stay in business. After all, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
So if marijuana use through electronic cigarettes becomes a big thing, regulators might drop their tobacco products deeming efforts (that is, trying to qualify e-cigs as tobacco products) and go back to arguing that they are drug delivery devices. The single strongest argument against e-cigs as drug delivery devices at the moment is that nicotine is not a controlled substance. But once wide use of the devices with a controlled, legal substance happens, e-cigs could find themselves revisiting those arguments.
Under FDA jurisdiction (which delivery devices fall), e-cigs may simply find themselves totally banned “until more is known.” That is regularly used as an excuse to keep products off the market without much real reason. Even if not totally banned, the FDA does like to institute regulations so hefty that they effectively work as a ban.
Ultimately though, (by our understanding) electronic cigarettes used for consumption of THC will have different construction and specifications. This means the two may be alike, but won’t be the same. This is where distinction based on advertising should come in. E-cigs advertised for use with pot should fall under one category while nicotine e-cigs should fall under another.
But again, even if the two should be regulated in similar ways but kept distinct, that isn’t the normal operation for many regulators.