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Scandal: Indiana vaping laws may be rigged to favor a single firm

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When the new Indiana vaping laws were recently passed, state officials named the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) as the official “gatekeeper” for the highly controversial approval process. If a vape shop wants to sell e-juice, then it has to pay a hefty fee and hire a security firm to manage their warehousing and distribution processes. All of this information requires a firm with a long list of security credentials that must be documented on the ATC application. Unfortunately, there seems to be only one security firm in the entire state of Indiana that has the required credentials.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ), the Mulhaupt’s security firm of Lafayette is the sole company that all state retailers must hire if they want to gain ATC approval. As a result, this essentially creates a monopoly, meaning that Mulhaupt’s has the unique ability to control which businesses can apply for ATC approval and which ones cannot. Even if Mulhaupt’s wanted to work for every vape shop and retailer in the state, they probably couldn’t do it simply because they lack the proper staffing levels.

License revoked over to Indiana vaping laws scandal

The scandal only came to light after a recent application was approved by the ATC for the California-based manufacturer, the Cali Co-Packing LLC company. This e-juice retailer had hired a security firm by the name of Lock-Up Inc. instead of the ATC-popular Mulhaupt’s. But when Lock-Up’s CEO discovered that the ATC had approved the application, he immediately knew something was wrong. Even Lock-Up management knew that they did not have the required state credentials. So how could the application possibly be approved?

"(The Cali Co-Packing Company) hired us to do the certified locks for him…There are boxes checked on that form that I did not check. The signature is mine, but I did not check those boxes because I don't even know what they are, and they did not hire us to do that work."

-Frank Khonsari, CEO Lock-Up Inc.

According to Khonsari, there were three credentials missing, including those from the Door and Hardware Institute and the International Door Association. Lock-Up Inc. also lacked the proper certification by a national locksmith group. With these three boxes somehow inexplicably checked, the application sailed through the ATC for immediate approval.

Worried that his company might accidentally become involved in some sort of scandal, Khonsari contacted the ATC, which immediately revoked the Cali Co-Packing Company’s license. After looking into the matter further, the IBJ reports that the e-liquid maker had previously asked another security firm, the Bay Alarm Company, to complete the application and “stretch the truth” regarding their related credentials. Luckily, the Bay Alarm Company refused to comply. As a result of the ensuing controversy, Indiana Sen. Ron Alting is looking into the Indiana vaping laws to determine if the system is indeed corrupt, as many local vape shop owners have been claiming.  

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