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U.s. Vaping Concerns Loom As Canada Legalizes Pot Devices

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TORONTO -- A wave of illnesses and deaths in the U.S. linked to vaping products may dampen demand for soon-to-be-legal cannabis vapes in Canada later this year, industry watchers say.

An ongoing vaping probe south of the border -- where as many as five people have died and hundreds more have fallen ill -- may slow sales growth in what has been one of the fastest growing categories in the industry, said Jennifer Lee, Deloitte Canada's Cannabis national leader.

"It's going to create some hesitation in the market," she said in an interview. However, new users are more likely to be deterred than smokers who are looking to shift to reduced-risk products, Lee added.

A growing number of health and regulatory authorities in recent days have urged consumers to stop vaping until it is clear what the root cause is.

The U.S. investigation could present a hindrance, or an opportunity, for the sector, depending on the ultimate conclusion, said Michael Armstrong, an associate business professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.

"It's an opportunity for the legal producers to say, 'OK, look, our products are tested. We have consistent manufacturing processes.'... Whereas with black market products, who knows what got put into those cartridges," he said.

But if vaping itself triggers the problem, rather than a particular additive, "that would be a much bigger problem for the Canadian cannabis industry."

The string of mysterious, in some cases fatal, lung illnesses linked to vaping in the U.S. comes as Canada prepares to legalize new categories of cannabis products, including liquid concentrates for vaping, later this year.

Cannabis vaporization is gaining popularity as a more discreet way to consume pot and, similar to tobacco vapes, as a less harmful option that smoking a joint.

Source: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/u-s-vaping-concerns-loom-as-canada-legalizes-pot-devices-1.1314064

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