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The Growing Danger of Fake CBD

Federal health officials recently published a report indicating that phony CBD products “poisoned” more than 50 people in Utah during the winter months of 2017. Dozens of these individuals were forced to seek emergency medical treatment for side effects synonymous with the momentary flashes of madness typically associated with spice — often referred to as “synthetic marijuana” or K2.

The report, which was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that customers thought they were buying cannabis oil from local head shops around the state (or got it from a friend), only to end up sick with a variety of symptoms inconsistent with the effects of CBD.

Some of the victims experienced adverse reactions, such as “altered mental status, seizures, confusion, loss of consciousness, and hallucinations,” the report reads.

The Growing Danger of Fake CBD

But unlike the nasty situation involving smokeable forms of spice, these consumers were under the impression that they were buying a legitimate cannabis derivative — not some synthetic chemical that was imitating cannabis to provide a high much different than the plant itself provides.

The oil that was sold in Utah was far from what the label suggested. An analysis by the Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) determined the product was, in fact, consistent with a spice-like substance.

“Nine product samples (including one unopened product purchased by investigators from a store and brand reported by a patient) were found to contain a synthetic cannabinoid, 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA (4-CCB), but no CBD,” reports the CDC.

“Eight of the tested products were branded as ‘Yolo CBD oil’ and indicated no information about the manufacturer or ingredients. Blood samples from four of five persons were positive for 4-CCB.”

There have been additional reports float to surface in the past few weeks suggesting that people have gotten sick after using counterfeit CBD.

Most recently, a Tennessee woman claims she was poisoned after ingesting what she believed was CBD oil made by Beyond Botanicals. It turns out a local smoke shop has been manufacturing fake CBD oil, packaging it with Beyond Botanicals label and distributing it throughout Memphis, according to WREG, the CBS-affiliate in Memphis.

If you’re asking yourself how someone could get away with this, the answer is simple: marijuana prohibition.

Because the federal government still considers any derivative of the cannabis plant to be an outlaw substance, CBD products can easily skate through the grey areas of the market without a regulatory leash.

This is especially true in those states where marijuana is still under a total ban. Although these products are technically illegal, the hemp-based oils — much of what is found through health food stores and other retailers — is not catching much heat from law enforcement. But without regulations, which are becoming more prevalent in CBD-legal states, there is nothing stopping phony products from being sold.

The CDC recommends states work on imposing regulations on CBD products. Otherwise, unsavory cases will likely continue.

“States could consider regulating products labeled as CBD and establishing surveillance systems for illness associated with products labeled as CBD to minimize the risk for recurrences of this emerging public health threat,” the agency concluded in its report.


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