San Francisco has become the latest city in the nation to enact restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes, a ruling which has cannabis activists concerned medical marijuana patients may be unable to intake the medicine they need.
On Tuesday the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of amending the current health code to limit smoking e-cigarettes to areas where tobacco smoking is allowed. The ruling, which still requires a second vote as well as the mayor’s signature, effectively bans the electronic smoking devices at businesses, bars and restaurants. The city already outlaws smoking in a number of different areas including public parks, bus stops and near entryways.
E-cigarettes are very similar to vapor pens. Both devices do not produce smoke because they do not reach the point of combustion, but rather, exude extracts – tobacco in the case of e-cigarettes and cannabis in the case of vapor pens.
The San Francisco ordinance was specifically written not to crack down on cannabis users, according to its sponsor Supervisor Eric Mar. However, as written, the ordinance includes limitations on electronic smoking devices that contain not only liquid nicotine extracted from tobacco, but also “other vaporized liquids.”
“You can see vapor pens that look exactly like each other,” San Francisco cannabis activist David Goldman said, noting there is no way for police officers to tell whether a person is vaporizing cannabis or nicotine.
While California’s medical marijuana laws do not specifically address vaporizing, California NORML has long recommended patients use vaporizers to avoid the respiratory hazards associated with smoking. Vaporizers provide cannabis smokers with an effective dosage method that results in a rapid onset and allows convenience in self titration, NORML states. In addition, there is no documentation of second-hand health risks associated with cannabis smoking, vaporizing or otherwise.
Cannabis patients, Goldman said, “need quick relief for their medical issues” and may not be able to easily get to areas where smoking is allowed due to the disabilities they may face. “Where are these people supposed to smoke?”
The San Francisco action follows similar rulings across the nation including Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Boston and Chicago.
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