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DEA Warns Teens on Using THC-containing Vapes

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A local school district in Texas issued a warning to students who use THC-laden vape pens, indicating that they will face expulsion if they get caught. It is in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing a notice to the youth, cautioning them against using vape that killed six users due to alleged complications.

Some eight students caught possessing vape pens containing THC are waiting whether they will be expelled from NEISD. The rest of the US are on high alert due to the recent turn of events.

Warnings from Government Agencies

The DEA also issued a warning, saying that vape users many be clueless as to what they are getting.

Dante Sorianello, Drug Enforcement Administration assistant special agent in San Antonio, stated that they had witnessed a growth in the number of inserts for e-cigarettes and vape cartridges that came from other states like Colorado and smuggled into Texas. Such products are found to contain high THC levels, which causes psychoactive effects like in of marijuana.

It means that not everyone who vapes is aware that what they are using may already be contaminated and illegal since it contains marijuana.

Sorianello stated that since such products contain unregulated tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, they are largely illegal in Texas and may cause various health issues. He added that the industry still has loose regulations as of late.

The Problem with Vapes

Another issue that arises during discussions about vaping is understanding the distinction between marijuana and hemp. Both come from the same source plant, Cannabis sativa L. The difference is that marijuana is infamous for its psychoactive properties, while CBD has none. Legally, the hemp variety is legal based on the Hemp Federal Act.

Cannabidiol or CBD products that do not contain more than 0.3% of THC are considered legal under the Hemp Act and the Farm Bill. However, Sorialleno noted that it is difficult to test for THC and determine whether an item labeled as CBD is lawful.

A few years ago, as vaping started to get the public’s attention, only 1.5% of students in high school were using such products. Fast forward to 2017, and the number of high school students who vape climbed up to 11%, and is still rising for now. These numbers show how the problem is getting bigger as time goes by.

Independent Testing by AP

A test conducted by the Associated Press revealed that 10 out of the 20 vape samples are said to contain synthetic cannabinoids in them. Some CBD edibles like gummies also tested positive for the illegal substance.

There have been reports of severe side effects for users who tried spiked vapes. Some of the signs and symptoms include hallucinations and coma just a few moments only after ingesting the said compound. Some vape users across different states revealed that they had taken a trip to the ER after unknowingly using vape products laced with illegal substances.

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Accident Victim Seeks Solace In CBD But Faces Misdemeanour Charges

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CBD User Arrested

Amanda Furstonberg is the victim of a severe car accident which crushed her left foot back in February 2017 and left her with lingering fear and shooting pain. When normal medications couldn’t bring any positive result, she decided to try out smoking of hemp flower following a friend’s recommendation. Amada recalls her experience with this legal form of cannabis devoid of the psychedelic kick which she smoked from a pipe at her Four Oaks apartment.

Things were going pretty smooth and she even cut down on her prescription pain medicines as hemp made her feel relaxed without causing any high. “It helped me tremendously. I barely took the pain pills that they were prescribing me. It helped me sleep. It helped with the PTSD, the anxiety. I couldn’t function correctly and the hemp flower and the CBD helped,” said Amanda. But in April, she received an uninvited visitor in the form of local police.

Police Proceedings

The 32-year-old mom was charged by officers from Johnston County with misdemeanors arising out of possessing both marijuana as well as drug paraphernalia. A court date has also been set for her in June. Furstonberg frantically tried to explain to the police authorities who were searching for her apartment that smoking hemp is legally different from that of marijuana.  

She recalled the whole incident by stating that, “The cops literally came to the window and said, ‘Where’s the weed?’ And I said, ‘I don’t have weed I have CBD.’ They said, ‘We don’t believe you, so either we’re going to come in or we’re going to get a warrant and it’s going to be worse on you.”

Amanda allowed the police inside her house and showed the glass jars of hemp. She also tried to educate them about the 2018 Farm Bill wherein CBD was given the legal standing provided it was curated out of hemp and contained less than 0.03% THC which is the main compound causing psychological effects.

Furstonberg, who resides with her 9-year-old daughter further added that “They did not care. They told me I could print it off the internet and that I was lying and that he was trained and that it was marijuana.”

Confusion Over Products

About 10 stores selling hemp and CBD have added up to the confusion level of prosecutors and police who are finding it extremely difficult to differentiate the same from legal cannabis. CBD is available in the form of cream, gummy bears and oil drops. However, hemp flowers look similar to dried oregano and smell similar to college dorm on being burnt. Raleigh attorney John Fanney revealed that “It looks like marijuana, it smells like marijuana, but it’s not marijuana.”

Possible Outcome Of The Case

John Fanny, a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer pointed out that, “I’m not coming down on law enforcement. They are in a tough position. Marijuana is illegal, so they’re tasked with enforcing those laws they see someone like Amanda who has something that looks and smells like marijuana, what do they do? The only way to deal with that effectively for them is education, maybe a change in policy and ultimately a change in the law.”

This is the third case of a similar kind which shall be handled by Fanny. Previously he was able to relieve his client of all charges by bringing the CBD products to the district attorney. He further added that “Look at this, how can you distinguish the difference between marijuana and not marijuana? They looked at the packaging, talked with us for a few minutes and then they dismissed the case,”

Garner police had dealt with cases like this previously. But they are not ready to admit their inability of distinguishing between the two. Fanny pointed out that, “The only way to absolutely tell the difference between a CBD flower and a THC flower is to send it off to a lab and to have a fairly expensive test done to determine the amount of THC that is in the product. It can be done, but it’s very expensive, it’s time-consuming and it uses a lot of state resources.”

Fanny is keeping high hopes about the court dropping all charges from his client. However, he feels it is imperative for people to be cautious about the products they are using and carry the original packaging to get them out of such a sticky situation

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