One of the big advantages of CBD (to those who aren’t interested in getting high) is that it isn’t psychoactive. It’s one of the factors that led to the legalization of hemp, and it’s a huge reason that CBD has garnered such mainstream success.
So what happens when people think they’re taking a CBD product…and end up getting high?
This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago to customers of Select CBD, and the fallout has been pretty spectacular.
Portland-based Select Cannabis (now owned by multistate marijuana operator Curaleaf Holdings) has two branches to its company. The CBD-only line and the THC-dominant line. These are kept fairly distinct when purchasing online (since THC products are not legal in many states). But when the news first hit a couple of weeks ago that Select had announced a recall of products – it became clear that perhaps the two substances were not kept quite as separate as might be hoped.
Complaints began to roll in to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) from customers who reported “paranoia,” “mind fog” and feeling “extremely high” after taking what were labeled as CBD drops. In short, these unsuspecting CBD users had taken a fairly hefty dose of THC and were not appreciative of the outcome.
After tracing the affected bottles of product, the problem seems to have been due to human error, according to Curaleaf. Workers at the company’s Portland manufacturing site confused a line of CBD products (with no THC) with a line of THC-dominant products.
“After our preliminary investigation, we believe this mistake occurred due to unintentional human error, Curaleaf said in a brief statement. “In response, we are improving quality assurance processes, including new warehouse organization protocols to ensure that this never happens again, and will conduct additional training with our production team this week and more regularly moving forward.”
At least four people so far have been admitted to emergency departments after taking Select's mislabeled CBD products.
It’s too early to know what penalties the company might face from the OLCC, but within two weeks of the company’s admission of responsibility, customers were already filing lawsuits.
Buying a THC-dominant product that has no THC in it is, obviously, a frustrating experience. But it pales in comparison to the experience of someone who has no intention or desire to experience the effects of THC when they accidentally get high. Especially when that person is in a fragile state of health.
One family, from Hillsboro, OR, is suing after three family members (a grandfather, an aunt, and a granddaughter) were exposed to the mislabeled THC drops. All three people experienced nausea, distress, and dizziness, but the grandfather, a 79-year-old man, had a reaction so severe that he was taken to the hospital and subjected to unnecessary surgery (under the assumption that he was having a stroke).
Add to that fact that another family member is in recovery and living in sobriety, and it’s clear that what may seem like a minor mix-up can have far-reaching effects for people sensitive to the effects of THC. According to the lawsuits, at least three people went to hospital emergency departments due to their adverse reactions.
Curaleaf is working with the OLCC to recall approximately 500 bottles of CBD-labeled drops (which contain THC) and 630 bottles of THC labeled drops (which consumers will find, to their disappointment, contain CBD, but no THC).
This is the first time a major mix-up like this has happened, and the repercussions will be costly for Curaleaf since each of the lawsuits seeks damages that add up to 1% of Curaleaf’s net worth.
All of this is adds up to bad news for a company that has already had its name sullied by scandal. The OLCC slammed Select Cannabis last year with a $110,000 “dishonest conduct” penalty for claiming its brand of vaping products contained “100% marijuana.”
But according to Curaleaf, they are working to make things right.
“The health and safety of our patients and customers remains our number one priority,” Curaleaf said. They are taking anyone who purchased the recalled bottles to contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.