The DEA Joins the FDA in THC Vapes Crackdown

    Federal agencies that drive the United States’ domestic and global drug war have been enlisted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to track down the manufacturers of illicit THC-oil vape devices that have been linked to seven deaths (despite a public outcry connecting the deaths with vaping of nicotine).

    On September 25, FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless testified before Congress, reporting that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are being tapped to assist the agency in “identifying the products that are making people ill and following the supply chain to the source.”

    The DEA is motivated by its concern over the involvement of THC oil, while the CBP is overseeing identification of illicit vape devices potentially coming to the United States through International Mail Facilities.

    Additionally, the FDA’s Criminal Investigations Unit has opened a probe into the illicit THC-oil vapes with the intention of making arrests and bringing defendants before the Justice Department for prosecution, according to the Washington Post.

    “To be clear, if we determine that someone is manufacturing or distributing illicit, adulterated vaping products that caused illness and death for personal profit, we would consider that to be a criminal act,” Sharpless told members of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    The criminalization of illicit vaping products appears to follow a similar logic as that of a prosecutor charging a person with a drug-induced homicide offense for the distribution of a drug that’s later involved in a death—yet such seized vaping products are not necessarily being connected to deaths. Arrests for illicit THC oil vaping products have already been made in Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    Screenshot of Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless testifying before Congress on September 25; via House Committee on Energy and Commerce

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