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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Minnesota regulators go after potent THC gummies

Legal action is being taken by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy against a Minnesota company for selling items that are in violation of new state rules on edible THC products, including the gummy bears that were related to the hospitalization of two minors in Iowa.

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy filed a complaint against Northland Vapor and Wonky Confections in district court in Moorhead on Monday, alleging that the two businesses marketed goods with excessively high concentrations of THC per serving in child-friendly packaging.

Northland Vapor stores in Minnesota marketed a product called “Death by Gummy Bears,” which had 20 times the legal limit per serving and more than 50 times the legal limit per package due to the high concentration of THC (100 milligrams per serving).

The product has an animal form and employs bright packaging, both of which are against Minnesota law.

According to the executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, “we advise you to be careful while buying and eating edible cannabis products,” to all of her fellow Minnesotans. Products that contain levels of THC over the legal limit may be extraordinarily strong, putting the lives of children and pets at risk if they happen to come into contact with them.

More than $7 million in noncompliant items have been “embargoed” by Minnesota pharmacy inspectors, who are seeking a court order to destroy them. According to the action, which was filed on behalf of the board by Assistant Attorney General Hans Anderson, the goods that the board has banned from sale are now being held at Northland Vapor’s warehouse in Moorhead.

The pharmacy board said on November 8 that Minnesota and FDA inspectors had performed an examination at the warehouse and uncovered four goods that violated state law, including two different package sizes of Death by Gummy Bears, “Wonky Weeds Gummies,” and “Wonky Weeds THC Syrup.”

According to Phillips, the FDA informed state authorities about the noncompliant items via the pharmacy board’s complaint procedure. The FDA is still looking into whether or not the product directly caused the death of a 23-year-old who had complained about it in October.

The board said that it was unable to comment more due to the continuing investigation into the fatality, even though the incident did not occur in Minnesota.

Five Iowa youths in November had “serious” side effects from Death by Gummy Bears, including nausea, vomiting, extreme anxiety, paranoia, violent tremors, elevated heart rate, and trouble breathing. According to accounts, two people were sent to the hospital after consuming one full gummy.

Northland Vapor’s attorney claimed that his client had cooperated with authorities to bring its operations into line with the legislation, but that the company was still unjustly singled down by “over-zealous bureaucrats in St. Paul wanting to make a splash with their newly enacted statute.”

The State’s efforts to destroy Northland’s name and character via relentless propaganda are unbelievable. Attorney Tyler J. Leverington stated in a written statement that the state “had inferred, but been cautious not to allege, that ingestion of a Northland gummy product resulted in a THC overdose fatality.”

Using the logic that a man’s death was caused by eating a gummy product on the day he passed away is as ridiculous as supposing that a man’s death was caused by drinking a single beer on the day he passed away.

On July 1st, 2018, it became legal in Minnesota to sell edibles and drinks containing THC. The action was unexpected by many, including several politicians who voted in support of it.

Products with up to 5mg of THC per serving are available for purchase by those above the age of 21. No more than 50 milligrams may be included in any one edible or drinkable product packaging. Hemp, the plant from which legal CBD oil is extracted, cannot contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis responsible for producing the high.

Under federal regulations enacted in 2018, a specific strain of THC known as delta-8 was already permitted in Minnesota. The new legislation in Minnesota that governs hemp products is significant because it legalizes the more powerful delta-9 THC as long as it is produced from hemp. The delta-8 found in Death by Gummy Bears is not illegal. The product would have been lawful before the limitations on packaging and dose that the new legislation legalizing delta-9 imposed.

Even though the new legislation took effect this summer, numerous issues persisted, particularly around enforcement and regulation.

Whether or not edible THC products are really lawful under the new legislation is left open. The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is responsible for regulating THC-containing goods, while local governments are responsible for enforcing the law.

Full legalization is expected to be accompanied by increased governmental regulation and taxation. Currently, there is no need for a license to sell THC edibles.

In the time since edible THC products were authorized in Minnesota, the pharmacy board has received 46 reports of infractions.

Because the companies selling edible THC products are not licensees, Phillips said the pharmacy board can do nothing to stop them from selling. The board was given the responsibility of product regulation by the Legislature, but was not given any more resources to do this. The state’s pharmacy board would want to see the establishment of a new licensing body dedicated to marijuana and related THC products.

She told reporters, “We hope that in the next parliamentary session we adopt far more thorough regulations governing these items.” With the means at our disposal, we work as quickly and efficiently as possible to resolve these concerns.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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