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Summit takes on sense of urgency

October 18, 2019 07:24 pm

There are many loose ends in the issue of vaping and the debate over the decriminalization — and perhaps the legalization — of marijuana. To discover ways of tying them up, governors from several Northeast states convened in New York City on Thursday to discuss the health and economic impacts.

It was the first Cannabis and Vaping Summit co-hosted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with Govs. Philip Murphy of New Jersey, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and Ned Lamont of Connecticut. Govs. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts also attended, with health officials and lawmakers from several states. They have their work cut out for them.

The summit took on greater urgency with the death earlier this month of a 17-year-old boy in the Bronx, who was New York’s first vaping-related fatality and the youngest in the nation.

This isn’t just a statewide issue. Among the challenges of vaping regulations and marijuana laws is that there is almost no legal precedent to guide legislators. This isn’t just a regional issue, either, although regional coordination is important.

People travel across state lines and the laws from state to state vary. This can lead to complications and confusion. On top of this, coordination among states is no easy feat. Efficient communication between states within regions has to become a national priority.

Having uniform laws and regulations that are agreeable to as many states as possible would help. A patchwork-quilt approach doesn’t make sense. Educating teens about the dangers of vaping and outlawing advertising can do only so much. Where there is one vaping death, there is likely to be others.

The representatives attending Thursday’s meeting should see this as an opportunity to stop a tragic spiral before it starts.

The Cannabis and Vaping Summit was the first of its kind. Our representatives will determine whether it will be the last.