CBD or cannabidiol, the therapeutic cannabis extract as claimed by users, is increasingly popular in the vaping community due to its non-psychoactive property and ability to cure ailments. The only problem is that some vape CBD oil has been found to contain a potent street drug instead of the real thing.
CBD isn’t very cheap, but many vape operators are taking advantage of the current CBD craze by infusing synthetic marijuana to the mix, which is much cheaper and also very much illegal. Some similar instances also happen to edibles like gummies.
In the past two years, vape users have taken trips to the E.R. due to the intake of spiked products, which are sold by sinister distributors. These cheap yet impure CBD vapes make it easily accessible to users yet hard for law enforcers to catch culprit due to the overwhelming boom of the market.
In an investigation conducted by the Association Press (AP), gathered evidence from law enforcement agencies across the states and tested 30 CBD vape products under a licensed third-party laboratory, focusing on flagged items that have initially been reported to contain synthetic marijuana. Of the 30 products tested, ten came our positive. Some did not contain any CBD at all.
Authorities are zoning in on such products because synthetic marijuana is still largely illegal and causes a “high” to its users. By law, chemicals that contain more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is considered a controlled substance under DEA regulations.
According to the director of the laboratory that conducted the tests, there are several inconsistencies in such products. Some vape pods contained synthetic marijuana but the exact chemical differed by flavor and location of purchase.
The investigation by the AP is reflective of what law enforcing agencies in the US have found in their respective tests. Synthetic marijuana is laced in 36 edibles like gummies, while many vaping products were also found to contain the illegal substance. Mississippi enforcers have reported fentanyl, a potent opioid, in some samples of CBD products. Fentanyl is a major cause of death by overdose, which totals to around 30,000 just last year.
The testing, however, does not represent the overall vape industry since there are hundreds of CBD items including vape oils in the market today.
US Hemp Authority President Marielle Weintraub stated that fly-by-night companies are common in a flourishing industry. While synthetic marijuana is cause for concern, she said that there are still a lot of reputable businesses and that counterfeiting is most often used as the scapegoat by erring distributors and suppliers.
In recent weeks, vaping has also met controversy due to users reporting they developed respiratory illnesses that have claimed the lives of several people. Impure CBD vape is now another problem to add to this growing list.
The issue is that there are numerous CBD products in the market, and law enforcers cannot check them all one by one. Quality control is therefore largely shouldered by manufacturers themselves.
Also, synthetic marijuana can be bought for cheaper. Some websites sell the substance for only $25/pound; CBD of that amount can rack up to several thousand dollars.
Case in Point
Jay Jenkins, then a freshman at the Citadel, was curious about the blueberry-flavored CBD vape brand Yolo! that his friend bought at a store. He remembers trying it from the back of the car, which immediately caused adverse effects like hallucinations and ultimately led to his loss of consciousness.
Jenkins was rushed to hospital by his friend and found to have suffered from acute respiratory failure. He went into a coma as stated in his medical records. He woke up the next day, with hospital staff handing over the Yolo cartridge sealed in a biohazard bag.
Authorities further unearthed 33 other cases similar to Jenkins in Utah, but the brand’s makers have not been identified.
Bookkeeping records showed that Yolo was sold to a distributor by the Mathco Health Corporation. Katarina Maloney, CEO of the said company, has since denied allegations of their involvement. She reiterated that the products are out of their hands once shipped to a distributor.
The investigation noted that a former business partner of Maloney, Janell Thompson, acted as the “exclusive salesperson” of Yolo. However, she refused to provide contact information or an interview.
CBD as an Emerging Hazard
CBD or cannabidiol, a derivative of Cannabis sativa L. hemp variety, is now being considered as an emerging hazard by the American Association of Poison Control Center because of reported cases of contamination and mislabeling.
CBD is known to cure intractable epilepsy. However, an eight-year-old in Washington was brought to the hospital after taking a CBD oil his parents bought online to help with his seizures. The chemical was later found to contain synthetic marijuana, which caused symptoms that include tachycardia and delirium. Similar instances have also been noted in the military bases of North Carolina and Mississippi.
One study in 2017 has proven that labeling of CBD products can be sketchy. In fact, around 70% of such products have been improperly labeled.
Various agencies like the US Hemp Authority are tasked to certify CBD products, but vapes aren’t included in such certification programs.
Since CBD is an active component of Epidiolex, an FDA-approved drug, regulations fall heavily on the said agency. However, if the CBD product is tested to have opioids or narcotics, an FDA spokesperson stated that the DEA should handle such cases.
DEA, meanwhile, is focused on catching culprits who distribute, sell and use more potent drugs like methamphetamines and fentanyl.
Several experts urge the federal government to put more light on the issue. Virginia Commonwealth University Forensic Scientist Michelle Peace found synthetic marijuana in her independent testing of CBD vape products, which leads her to recommend more regulation to be enforced to protect the general public.
Bill Turnbull reveals his cancer journey in the documentary “Staying alive”
Bill Turnbull of BBC breakfast show fame has prostate cancer. His ongoing battle with the deadly disease is not being dealt with by chemo sessions but rather by Cannabis Oil. In a recent show for BBC, he spoke with his old colleagues Naga Munchetty and Dan Walker about how his experience with cannabis oil for cancer is turning out to be enjoyable. He also mentioned how the combination of CBD along with giving up alcohol and meat and rejuvenated his health. He told the presenters that his current health was in pink and he did not feel any pain. His decision to adopt the CBD way of healing vis-à-vis the conventional chemo has indeed brought some good results.
The moment his belief in chemotherapy disappeared in 2017, he decided and was firm to adopt any alternative therapy which will help him. The inspiration for CBD came to him when in the UK a 14-year-old boy miraculously recovered from his cancer and how every passing day he is feeling better. After taking CBD oil, he feels he has been the healthier version of himself. On further questioning, he also said that due to lack of research he was unsure about how much to take. That is why he has stopped taking it and is urging the medical sector and government to undertake more research.
Research in a way would also mean that people’s curiosity and fears will be settled. CBD has been there for thousands of years but we have only recently known its good and bad. A substance with that much potential should never be ignored or pushed to the background. The hemp-extracted plant also has anti-inflammatory properties with less than 0.3% THC levels. It is different compared to marijuana because of THC and also the effects it produces like intoxication and excessive addiction.
Despite being so beneficial in treating lots of ailments like cancer, joint pains, Alzheimer’s diseases, depression, and insomnia, people still attach a lot of stigma to it the way they attach to marijuana. Many medical foundations want to give this a try and have divulged that they will soon be funding research for CBD and its effectiveness. Recently a welfare organization has researched to see if CBD is effective in silencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The research is slated to begin next year and if effective will establish CBD as one of the major ingredients not to be missed in medications.
Bill has currently stopped because he does not want to risk its dosages. He feels invigorated after the changes he had made to his lifestyle and feels fresher and lighter than ever. His colleague also joking tells him that she has known him as a meat lover and this dramatic change is surely worth a mention. Turnbull agreed to this but has said that he has given up meat majorly and alcohol completely and feels better after doing so. He feels that he has mellowed down quite a bit.
All the revelations were made by Bill in a show documentary called Staying Alive. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017 and found that this cancer spread very easily. In the documentary, he also spoke at length about his treatment procedure and coming to terms with the deadly disease. He also mentions to his friends and hosts of the show that he has felt that this was quite a point of realization for him and time to look back at the truth.
His tryst with cannabis oil has been successful. When he was first diagnosed he was given little time to live which extended up to 8 years of age. But he also becomes practical that one day he has to go and will live the number of years he was destined to live. If while living and not living he can make himself feel better then he sees no harm in it.
Bill Turnbull has accepted his conditions and believes that he has a strong family force behind him to feel stronger. It is due to the immense love that his family has shown and the way they have backed him, gives him more reason and strength to recover.
In one of the lighter moments of the clip he is also shown smoking cannabis and amidst laughter explains the wonders of the product. Bill has not been a keen follower of CBD but believes that if it can be used for medicinal value then there is no harm.
He feels that there should be something right in it that 20 countries have now legalized it. The authorities should have a healthy discussion about it to take it forward instead of neglecting its potential.
The show ended with Turnbull feeling emotional about how the family took the news and how devastating it was at the beginning to come to terms with it.
CBD Vapes Linked to Clusters of Illness Sharing 2nd Connection
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.
Dad Claims Dog Worming Tablet and CBD Oil ‘Stopped’ His Bowel Cancer
Scott Davis, a 40-year-old man, running a building and maintenance company from Torquay, Devon got diagnosed las September with terminal cancer and was suggested to get palliative care. The doctors said he had only 12 months to live.
However, he took the matter in his hands by researching and started taking cannabidiol oil and fenbendazole, a dog-worming tablet. He also consumed many vitamins, and now claims that he feels healthier and stronger.
Scott has reached his 40th birthday, surpassing the doctor’s expectations as his cancer has been stabilized for about six months.
Trying out the unordinary
Scott, a dad of three, read that CBD oil and fenbendazole work well together from online sources. He noticed many people talking about the success of the combination and wanted to give it a try.
He stated that he buys fenbendazole for £7.5 online every week and consumes a pack per day. It is in powder form, which he usually sprinkles on his toast.
Scott was told by the doctors about his inoperable cancer in September 2018. They were offering palliative care, which shocked him since they gave him roughly 12 months to live. He felt healthy and fit at the time of his diagnosis.
A few months before talking to the doctors, he noticed getting several stomach pains, which his healthcare professional thought was caused by IBS. However, the pain started to worsen not long after, which landed him a trip to the hospital where they found out about the tumor.
He was getting palliative care and chemotherapy for six months when he started searching for alternative treatment options. He claimed that a nurse gave him a leaflet about CBD oil and its benefits, which was also when he found out about fenbendazole and cannabidiol oil.
He started taking the alternative route in May, even before he started his chemo. He said that he is aware that it’s not the cure for cancer, but this combination helped him prolong his life, which the thinks could help other people suffering from terminal cancer, too.
Desire to inspire people
According to Scott, his tumor hasn’t enlarged since he started medicating himself and jokingly adds how he exceeded his ‘expiration date’.
He noted how there are more people out there who have tried alternative treatment and found astounding results as well. He believes that the CBD oil and dog worming medication mixed with a healthy lifestyle may keep him going until 75 years old.
He turned 40 last September 25, or twelve months and thirteen days since his diagnosis, and he reiterated how he felt healthier, focused, and fitter than ever.
His healthcare team has also noticed and progress and told him to keep doing what he is doing, says Scott. His current goal is to raise awareness for people and inspire them while he still lives.
Experts, however, warn that these alternative therapies have no scientific evidence that they can cure or actively treat cancer.
Macmillan Cancer Support said that, as of writing, no alternative treatment had been proven to slow the growth of cancer, or effectively treat it. They noted how doctors are usually supportive of complementary therapies to help patients cope with their disease.
However, professionals generally advise against alternative routes of treatment. The support group added that it’s essential to check for the credentials of the dedicated therapist and the safety of the medications used.
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