Curaleaf — maker of cannabis products in 22 states, with a hand in production from seedling to shelf — has been issued a $130,000 fine and 23-day suspension for mixing up the packaging for CBD and THC products last year, reports The Oregonian.
In the summer of 2021, a worker at Curaleaf's Oregon subsidiary, Cura Cannabis, accidentally switched the packaging on batches of THC and CBD drops, leading to tinctures with high levels of THC being sold as broad-spectrum CBD and vice versa. Curaleaf had acquired Cura Cannabis in 2020. “Broad-spectrum” indicates that the CBD contains a variety of nonintoxicating cannabinoids, but no THC.
The blunder prompted a product recall by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission in September and 13 lawsuits from people who took the drops, according to the Willamette Week. The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission said the company distributed 1,500 mislabeled bottles.
In spite of the recall, some of the drops made it into the hands of consumers.
At least five people said they went to the hospital upon experiencing mysterious and distressing symptoms, not knowing they were caused by the drops. Two people said they were driving when psychotropic effects unexpectedly kicked in, The Oregonian reported in 2021. And doctors performed what turned out to be an unnecessary surgery on a 79-year-old man as they sought the source of his stroke-like symptoms.
At least five people said they went to the hospital upon experiencing mysterious and distressing symptoms, not knowing they were caused by the drops. And doctors performed what turned out to be an unnecessary surgery on a 79-year-old man as they sought the source of his stroke-like symptoms.
Differences in recommended dosage between the CBD and THC products meant people following the instructions on the CBD label would have taken a 30-35 milligram dose of THC. For first-time or infrequent users, 5 mg is typically enough to notice the effects of THC; 30 mg would likely cause dysphoria: paranoia, fear, hallucinations and tremors.
State regulators initially proposed a 70-day suspension and $200,000 fine for Curaleaf, according to The Oregonian. The company argued for a reduction. Regulators agreed, acknowledging that Curaleaf had shown “extraordinary cooperation” and that the mistake wasn’t a recurring issue. The company has an option to further reduce its suspension by 11 days, nearly half of the 23-day total, by paying a $2,750 civil penalty.
The attorney representing CBD users who’d unwittingly taken the THC drops, Michael Fuller, told the Oregonian the penalty was “pocket change” to Curaleaf. Ten of Fuller’s clients have reportedly accepted settlements from the company.
Curaleaf didn’t immediately comment on the penalty, according to The Oregonian. But the company has worked to correct the underlying issues. Based on a report from investigators, The Oregonian reported in May that Curaleaf had implemented changes to bottling protocols including color coding, a tamper proof tagging system, and testing by an independent lab to verify accuracy before products reach the sales floor.