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CBD Vapes Linked to Clusters of Illness Sharing 2nd Connection

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CBD Vapes Linked to Clusters of Illness

CBD vape users thought the product they puff could grant them a soothing feeling but instead caused them to take a trip to the ER. It’s because what they inhaled contained a tinge of synthetic marijuana, which caused bouts of hallucinations and seizures.

As soon as the outbreak ended last year, more than 50 individuals in Salt Lake City were poisoned by the vape brand ‘Yolo!’, which colloquially means ‘you only live once’.

There are some hundred or so vape users who are reported to have developed strange lung diseases, with around 30 deaths resulting from the incident. Users attribute this unfortunate circumstance to Yolo.

Law enforcers and public health officials made investigated, yet there is little information about the substance or where it came from.

The Associated Press digs deep

With the event of CBD vapes being illegally spiked and causing psychoactive effects on users, The Associated Press investigated on the matter to understand the Yolo story.

They traced it to an entrepreneur from a Southern California beach town who made a career change following her vaping habit. It is also what led her to a change of scenery, from Hollywood parties to a Manhattan federal court.

In 2010, Janell Thompson moved to San Diego from Utah and found the roommate whom she first met online. She also vaped.

Thompson and her roommate’s shared interest in vape soon turned into a business. Using her financial services background, Thompson founded Hookahzz, an electronic cigarette company.

The company showed promise and early success as they distributed Hookahzz products during a pre-party at the Emmy Awards. Their vape products were also included in gift bags for Oscar nominees in 2014. An industry insider called them the ‘divas of CBD’ in a video filmed at a particular trade show.

Hookahzz is one of the first companies to market vapes infused with CBD or cannabidiol. Nowadays, CBD is mixed as an ingredient for many products such as gummy bears and creams, which used to be illegal in some states and virtually unknown during that time.

The business partners also developed other CBD brands that sold edibles, capsules, and pet products. Thompson pitched their CBD pet items with the story of her dog’s tumor being treated by the substance.

Selling the spiked vapes

In the autumn of 2017, Thompson and partner founded Mathco Health Corporation, a new CBD company. In just a few months, their Yolo product was being sold in stores around Salt Lake City. The said product contained K2 or spice, also known as synthetic marijuana.

Significantly cheaper, manmade synthetic marijuana is commonly extracted from hemp.

Samples sent to a lab in Utah showed that Yolo has synthetic marijuana and no trace of CBD at all. It is responsible for the death of at least 11 people in Europe.

Authorities figured that some users tried Yolo to get high, while others were unaware of the presence of synthetic marijuana in the product. However, they were boggled about the product’s source. The Utah Bureau of Investigation were grasping at straws since no seller would talk about Yolo. The packaging also doesn’t have any contact details.

Come summer of 2018 when a former bookkeeper from Mathco prepared a workplace retaliation complaint and gathered evidence of the corrupt business practices she believed the company did. Tatianna Gustafson did her research and got ahold of online pictures showing Yolo as the culprit in Salt Lake City poisoning.

In the complaint she submitted to the Department of Industrial Relations in California, Gustafson wrote that Mathco excluded how Yolo was manufactured in the product’s promotional material. It was missing contact information and ingredients list on the label.

Another former Mathco employee named Justin Davis stated to AP that Yolo profit margins were more substantial than other products.

Implications of the ex-employee complaint

Gustafson’s filing of the complaint showed that Mathco, with incorporated company JK Wholesale, manufactured and distributed Yolo. Thompson’s initials were found in the company’s financial records, signing as the chief salesperson for transactions.

Records also showed Yolo being sold in six more states, including South Carolina. A case reported one college student going into a coma after vaping the said product.

Gustafson also tipped the Utah Poison Control Center regarding the people behind Yolo in her complaint.

Barbara Crouch, director for the state’s poison center, confirmed getting the tip that she passed to the Utah investigations bureau. Christopher Elsholz, SBI agent, made contact with the tipster who revealed that Yolo was distributed by the company she was working for. Since the company was out of their jurisdiction, Elsholz forwarded the statement to the DEA.

DEA Spokeswoman Mary Brandenberg took no action despite offering help. The agency considers spiked CBD as a low priority since they face more significant issues like the opioid epidemic.

How Thompson was caught

It wasn’t synthetic marijuana that ultimately led Thompson to the federal court.

Vape brands Black Diamond and Black Magic had reportedly sent 40 North Carolina residents to the hospital, including military men and school students. Investigators linked Thompson to the said outbreak due to a guilty plea of the spiked vape distributor who insisted it was Thompson who supplied the vape liquid.

Thompson also pleaded guilty to charges by New York prosecutors concerning the distribution of K2 and money laundering. They cited Yolo as the spiked brand.

US Attorney Geoffrey Berman labeled Thompson as a drug trafficker who distributed large quantities of K2 through JK Wholesale since 2014. She is facing prison time of up to 40 years.

Katarina Maloney, roommate and business partner, excluded herself from Yolo and Thompson in an interview last August at Mathco headquarters. She received no charges in the federal investigation.

A supplementary email from Maloney stated that the Yolo found in Utah did not come from their company. She wrote that their corporation does not engage in the illegal product market. She also insisted that their CBD products are 100% law-abiding.

However, Maloney denied requests to show lab results for their Yolo products.

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Coca Cola Denies Rumors Regarding CBD-infused Product Development

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Coca Cola

Coca-Cola has no plans to enter the CBD market with its products, dismissing rumors about the company selling beverages incorporated with hemp oil.

Kent Landers, Coca Cola spokesperson, said in an interview with FOX Business that the speculations are not valid. He reiterated that the beverage giant had no intention of joining the CBD craze as what they have stated several times.

The rumors have arisen after a Youtube video of a man popping open a can of Coca Cola and claiming that it is infused with cannabidiol oil, a cannabis leaf extract typically used to alleviate pain without causing a high. The video has since been deleted.

About the video

The Youtube user who made the video, “Gabor the Blind Guy”, claimed to the viewers that he got ahold of the product via his father who allegedly produced capping and bottling machines for several primary food and pharmaceutical companies.

He further stated that his father was contacted by Coca Cola Canada to develop a machine that would produce childproof caps for Coca Cola cans. The company is said to release a new line of products infused with cannabidiol extracts, which are considered as cannabis-based substances as declared by Gabor.

Coca Cola was supposedly looking into a collaboration with Aurora Cannabis, a Canada-based cannabis production company. The beverage powerhouse allegedly eyed the CBD market since it grew in demand, as reported by Bloomberg last September of 2018.

Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, CEO and Vice-Chair of Berkshire Hathway, respectively, indicated that Coca Cola joining the marijuana industry would not be right. In an interview with FOX Business Liz Claman, the experts said that entering the CBD market will be detrimental to the wholesome image that the company has kept throughout years.

Munger stated during the Berkshire Hathway Annual Shareholders Meeting held in Omaha, Nebraska that going into the cannabis market is a massive mistake for the company. The company’s image does not align with cannabis and its related products.

James Quincey, Coca-Cola CEO, dispelled the speculation in October, declaring that the company does not plan to get into the CBD space at this stage.

More about CBD

Cannabidiol oil has gained significant popularity over the recent years because of the positive reception from users. CBD is now known as an almost magical remedy that cures or alleviates pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, and more. Users claim that CBD is useful in resolving a broad range of health conditions.

However, there is still no formal regulatory framework for CBD from the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, the regulating body that is supposed to safeguard consumers from fake and harmful products. Many advocates, cannabis groups and even members of the House have called on FDA to hasten the process of providing a clear set of guidelines for the use and sale of CBD products.

The only FDA-approved medication out in the market today is Epidiolex, a drug used as an adjunct treatment for intractable epilepsy. It means that other CBD products out in the market today cannot be advertised as medication or food supplements, which makes adds to the confusion regarding the legality of the industry and the products.

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CBD-Based Wellness and Skincare Products for Newbies

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Active ingredients in skin care products can take hours of research, and several clinical trials to determine which ones really work. While nature-derived substances are considered safer, some allergies and skin sensitivities can still cause a reaction when using natural remedies.

Cannabidiol or CBD is the latest natural ingredient that has sparked interest in the wellness industry. It is extracted from Cannabis sativa L., the source plant for hemp and marijuana. Many questions arose regarding the application of CBD on skincare: does it work? What are the benefits of using it for wellness and beauty? Does it give a “high” when used, like in marijuana?

To clarify, cannabidiol is derived from the non-psychotropic component of marijuana. It has little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, which is the compound responsible for the psychoactive effect of the drug. Several countries have banned CBD products, but most formulations are safe to use and have zero dependency potential.

In terms of skincare benefits, CBD can be used to soothe, calm, and relax the skin. CBD is touted to have anti-inflammatory effects, which makes it a viable cure for acne. It is also believed to bring balance to skin sebum levels, controlling breakouts. CBD, as a plant-based ingredient, is rich in anti-oxidants and reduces wrinkles, roughness, and dull skin.

It might be confusing or intimidating to start on a CBD-based skin regimen. Some factors to take note of when choosing a CBD product for skin care are the method of extraction, packaging, purity and INCI compliance.

Here are some CBD-based skincare products that you can incorporate into your CBD routine.

Cannuka

Cannuka combines CBD oil and Manuka Honey to provide its all-natural skincare solution. Some of their products include CBD Harmonizing Face Cream, CBD Skin Balm, and CBD Calming Eye Balm, which showcase the healing capabilities of both ingredients. The products were created for the purpose of skin therapy.

The company ensures thoughtful harvesting, sustainable sourcing, and quality. Their hemp farms are known to produce quality cannabidiol since 2014. Their Manuka honey is sourced from an established farm in New Zealand.

Populum

For evening skin routine, the Lavender CBD Face Oil from Populum is an excellent choice. It is made of full-spectrum hemp oil and incorporated with lavender to give a calming sense while also working towards reducing signs of aging. The effect is a more youthful and radiant skin after applying during the night.

CBD and lavender are a good combination, which provides antioxidants, and as well as give a soothing effect for an improved mood and wellness.

Lily CBD

Lily CBD is a company that values integrity, safety standards, and paying it forward. Their CBD-infused product, Essential Oil Rollers, is promoted as a gift item for loved ones with a busy schedule. They incorporate full-spectrum cannabidiol in their products and have travel-friendly skincare items that minimize discomfort after a long trip.

Bathing Culture

Bathing’s Cultures CBD product is Dipsea Soak, which is specially formulated to reduce stress and provide a relaxing bath experience.

Fleur Marche

Fleur Marche is known for its informative labeling and transparency of their products. The Starter Kit is their offering for people wanting to start a CBD routine, with products such as Balance Drops, Nite Nite Patch, Luxury Beauty Serum, CBD Mint Truffles, and CBD & Honey Ache and Pain Relief Stick that are best-selling for their effectiveness.

They Call Her Alfie

The premium collagen and certified CBD make They Call Her Alfie products a hit in the market. They offer fast-acting skincare on their Forever Firming Duet Set, which works to rejuvenate and reinvigorate the skin.

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76% of Americans Falsely Believe FDA Regulates CBD

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In a survey conducted by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, more than three-quarters of Americans have assumed that CBD products sold commercially are controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is mostly untrue.

Of the 2,056 respondents who joined the survey, 76% believed that CBD-based products were regulated by the FDA, while 16% of the respondents were doubtful as to the regulation of CBD by the FDA. The study marked around 92% of Americans who are still confused by CBD regulations or apparent lack thereof.

What the study revealed

According to the study, over 6 in 10 Americans or 62% of the respondents are aware of cannabidiol products, but most of them are mistaken or doubtful about the nature of CBD, its effects, and whether all CBD-containing products are safe for consumption.

The only cannabidiol-based product that FDA has approved is Epidiolex, a medicine derived from marijuana that is used for the treatment of specific seizure disorders. The FDA stated that more studies need to be conducted before they can hand the approval for CBD, whether mixed in cosmetics, food, or other products. That, despite topical and salves being openly marketed at big retailers such as Walgreens, CVS, and Kroger.

The popular assumption regarding CBD stems from the 2018 Farm Bill. It legalized industrial hemp, which is where cannabidiol is derived. Jeff Lawrence, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment director of Environmental Health and Sustainability, stated that the federal approval granted to hemp made consumers assume that CBD products are now regulated and legal even if it’s not the case. The Farm Bill only approved fiber and seed products derived from industrial hemp, not CBD.

A look at CBD in Colorado

Cannabidiol has become a commodity over the years. Lawrence said that they had observed it in Colorado, where marijuana and other cannabis-derived products are somewhat progressive.

Lawrence added that Colorado made efforts to oversee CBD within the state. The Colorado Legislature allowed hemp and hemp-derived cannabidiol as a food and cosmetics additive since 2018.

States that legalized marijuana and have progressive industrial hemp laws like Oregon and Colorado have regulated CBD use. However, there were certain factors that prevented the FDA from researching about CBD easily until recently.

Before the Farm Bill, hemp was included in the federal list of controlled substances, along with heroin and THC-laden marijuana, which means that studies on CBD were undertaken by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, now that hemp is legal, Lawrence believes that federal research on CBD will experience change.

Lawrence further stated that the FDA had little capacity to inspect CBD from a medical viewpoint. Now, the agency is still trying to understand what CBD really is.

FDA stance on CBD

Although the FDA still has much to do about CBD regulation, the agency stressed that the substance is still illegal as an additive to consumed products. However, the CBD industry is still booming despite it. The agency recently penned warning letters to fifteen CBD companies that use fake promotional claims on their products.

While the FDA is yet to issue official guidelines on CBD regulations, consumers are responsible for choosing which CBD products to buy and use, and conduct a self-research on how such products may affect them. It includes inspecting the product label, third-part lab test procedures, and the company’s reputation.

Some reports have shown that several products could have more or less of their advertised THC or CBD content.

Lawrence believes that CBD-based product testing is a crucial issue to be handled by the CDPHE and the Governor’s administration. He stated that the emerging industry could have companies that only look to cash in on the craze. The department is set on ensuring that CBD products are clearly labeled, hemp-derived, and contain the right dosage.

He also hopes that this CBD growth will encourage Colorado state departments to create new regulations. He sees the need for the alignment of benefits concerning the agricultural crop, whether in Colorado or other parts of the country.

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