Recently the FDA finalized their deeming regulations much to the upset and annoyance of those of us in the community. It is an issue that concerns every stakeholder in the vape industry, starting with the consumers, on through to almost every manufacturer and vendor.
There is no overstating how important this fight is going to be, and I think we can all learn a lot from a slightly unexpected space: Medical Marijuana. Because in 2 years, if no other action is taken, we could very well find ourselves in the same position they were, fighting for our basic rights to make decisions about our own health and well-being.
My background is as someone who formerly ran a medical marijuana dispensary, as well as having involvement in other related ventures in the field. Currently I own a company producing CBD products, with an emphasis on CBD vape products. I think this experience gives me a unique vantage point to offer up my perspective on the current situation.
After over 50 years of being criminalized and all of the ensuing propaganda against it, marijuana was in a pretty bad place in the public mind. Enjoying a brief rise following the ‘60s and ‘70s, public opinion about marijuana plateaued and held at about 25% of the population thinking marijuana should be legal.
This attitude prevailed until the mid-1990’s when various activist groups started to more seriously agitate for reform. The most important piece of this early strategy was Proposition 215 which was passed in California in 1996. As you can see, attitudes changed dramatically following this. After staying in the 25% +/- approval range for 20 years, starting in 1996 and over the ensuing 20 years approval skyrockets to the 58% it sits at today.
Medical marijuana was in some ways a Trojan horse for the larger issue of outright legalization. It was important to change people’s attitudes towards marijuana before making a larger push into that bigger issue. At the time, the media had a very heavy bias against marijuana, often categorizing it as being the same as much harder drugs like cocaine and heroin.
It’s important to note here that there are very legitimate medical uses for marijuana, and in my dispensary I would see these people come in every day. And the parallel with vaping here is very strong, there is no doubt that a very large percentage of the people using vapes are doing so for a medical reason.
This medical aspect must always be up front in our discussions of vaping. It is much harder for the government to take a strong stance against something when the public is sympathetic to the medical problems of the people using it.
Everyone knows someone who is addicted to cigarettes. Tapping into this shared experience gives us a great platform to explain the overall benefits of vaping to those that aren’t already in the community. It is good to remember that we really do have the moral high ground in this fight.
It is important that through organization that our arguments be clear and precise, full of passion but devoid of any mean spiritedness. Acknowledging our flaws honestly, like packaging that appeals to children or vapers that might vape in inappropriate places is important too. When we do that we disarm our opponents and let them understand that our opinions aren’t just a blind fervor.
There are plenty of arguments to be made, and it will with no doubt be a long road ahead. But with right on our side, and a good model to work off of, there is hope. The hope that no matter what there will be people devoted to this cause and through a sustained and organized effort we will prevail over those who would replace fact and reason with dogma.