How prohibition shaped the cannabis industry

Darby Cox
7 min readJul 14, 2020

One of the biggest reasons for the vaping “epidemic” is the current illegality of cannabis in most of the United States [and beyond].

Vaping came to be primarily as a discrete manner to consume cannabis. Read that again. I’m saying that vaping exists solely because cannabis is a federally illegal substance, and there was a need in the market for discrete consumption. Yes, there is a medicinal place in the market for vaporizers. Are we there yet? No.

Here’s the thing — all of us, yes — I do mean all of us- all of us that work in the legal [and for some still, illegal] cannabis industry, that are working and striving to make this sector fully legal and safe, we all support legislation. We support testing, we support regulation —this is the battle we’ve been gearing to fight for decades, and for many of us longer than I’ve been alive. For the large and vast majority of the cannabis industry, these products that are causing trouble — we want them to go away too. They hurt us, they hurt our market, and they hurt our credibility.

Turning to cannabis and vaporizer CEO’s and blaming them for causing this isn’t the solution, nor is it the problem. Again, the vast majority of us, we’ve been trying to do the best we can with the information that we have available. As with all things, there are exceptions — There are plenty of profit hungry CEOs and investors who are primarily in the space for financial gain only. But, back on topic : when the crackdown on e-cigarettes and e-liquids started a few years back, the cannabis industry as a whole celebrated. We do not want to be affiliated with the people who are creating temporary products with ridiculous ingredients as a “first market placeholder” before the market becomes legal. That’s why we’ve stuck to our guns, supported testing, supported legalization, supported medical research. But we’re fighting people who are only in this for the profit, who do not care about the medical cannabis benefits, who do not care about the safety and regulation of their products, and do not care about the dark history and struggles we’ve had with the plant.

First, we need to note that black market cartridges are the primary source of the problem. In the vast majority of the cases the CDC has investigated, added Vitamin E acetate to black-market cannabis…