Illinois state Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville)
Illinois state Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) questioned why THC products are not in the conversation about a possible ban on flavored e-cigarette liquids during an Illinois House of Representatives Mental Health Committee hearing last week.
“Why are we not talking about a vaping ban on THC as well?” Wehrli asked. "We are decriminalizing marijuana on Jan. 1, but why are we not introducing a ban on vaping THC?"
Attorney General Kwame Raoul said that it was a worthy discussion, but that not all cases connected to the recent string of lung injuries have involved THC. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi O. Ezike said that 75 to 80 percent of the cases did in fact involve THC rather than nicotine products.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
"I want to provide a solution that will keep our kids safe," Wehrli said. "We need a solution to regulate the problem. It sounds like we need to ban vaping THC before it is decriminalized."
Wehrli also asked DuPage and Lake County State's Attorneys Robert Berlin and Michael Nerheim if they were being given the tools to do their jobs by the legislature. Berlin said a new house bill introduced earlier in the year was a start.
The committee heard testimony from Raoul, Ezike, high school students, Berlin, Nerheim, physicians, consumers and vape shop owners on what banning the flavored liquids for e-cigarettes would do to the industry and what it currently does to the community. Wehrli asked the students who testified how making something that is already illegal "more illegal" solves a problem.
Jack Carey, a Willowbrook High School student, said students cannot even go to the bathroom at school without being exposed to e-cigarettes.
"This is vape culture," Carey said. "Teens are being advertised to."
Wehrli is currently sponsoring a bill that would ban the flavoring from THC products. House Bill 3887, was introduced earlier this month.