PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 77-year-old Oregon man filed a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of himself and anyone else who was impacted by mislabeled CBD drops produced by Curaleaf, Inc. in 2021.
The drops unintentionally contained high doses of THC and the lawsuit requests at least $200 for each person impacted.
Oregon law requires all products containing THC to feature a warning label for consumers. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of the psychological effects of marijuana. However, according to an investigative report KOIN 6 News obtained from the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, it appears a Curaleaf employee accidentally mixed up the non-THC product and THC product during the bottling process.
Since the original discovery and product recall in September 2021, 12 lawsuits have been filed against Curaleaf related to the product mix-up. One is a wrongful death lawsuit in which the person who represents the estate of Earl Jacobe claims the symptoms Jacobe experienced by unintentionally ingesting THC contributed to his death at age 78.
An Idaho man who claims to have been impacted by the unexpected THC in the drops, Jason Crawforth, said he went to the emergency room when he began experiencing intoxicating effects after taking what he believed were CBD drops.
“Health complaints have ranged from ‘too high to go to work,’ to people realizing they were unable to continue driving and having [a] passenger take over or calling someone to come get them, to emergency room visits and helicopter evacuation to hospital for stroke like symptoms,” the OLCC wrote in its investigative report.
In the latest lawsuit filed on Monday, Ronald Williamson said he purchased the CBD drops from Sweet Relief dispensary in Tillamook on Aug. 1, 2021.
The lawsuit does not detail how Williamson was affected by the THC in the drops but asks that Curaleaf, Inc. pay Williamson and anyone else who purchased the mislabeled CBD drops on or after June 19, 2021, the greater of their actual damages or $200 in statutory damages, punitive damages and reasonable fees and costs.
The complaint accuses Curaleaf of falsely representing that the product had the characteristics, uses, benefits and qualities of a CBD product that did not contain THC.
Williamson is requesting a trial by jury.
The report released by OLCC states that they first became aware of concerns about the Curaleaf CBD drops on Sept. 9, 2021, after Crawforth emailed OLCC officials.
The OLCC began requesting tests to be done on CBD drops that were bottled at the same time as the ones reportedly causing issues. The test results from the batch of products showed high amounts of THC and undetectable amounts of CBD in the drops.
Typically, the product was meant to include about 30 mg/ml of CBD and undetectable amounts of THC. The product raising concerns contained about 30 mg/ml of THC and undetectable amounts of CBD.
On Sept. 21, 2021, OLCC sent an urgent recall notice to all dispensaries in the state, asking them to remove the “Select CBD Drops ‘Broad Spectrum’ Unflavored 1000mg CBD” products from their shelves. They said the product was manufactured by Cura CS, LLC.
On Sept. 24, 2021, an inspector collected bottles of a Curaleaf THC product from dispensaries and tested its contents. The test revealed it included 33.4 mg/ml of CBD and undetectable amounts of THC, implying this product may have been swapped for the other CBD product during the bottling process.
OLCC documents state that between June 19, 2021, and Sept. 21, 2021, 523 packages of the recalled CBD product were sold to consumers and 629 units of the THC product had been received by retailers.
Curaleaf and OLCC reviewed surveillance video from inside the bottling facility on June 1, 2021. An employee named Liam Drain was tasked with bottling the CBD tincture.
In the video, which was not released with OLCC’s report, but which OLCC described in detail, Drain enters a cage where both the CBD tincture and THC tinctures are stored. The hemp product, or CBD product, was stored in a bucket with a blue lid and the THC tincture was in a bucket with a white lid. Both products had unique identifier numbers that were only one digit off from one another and were stored next to each other on a shelf.
The video shows Drain pulling out the bucket with the blue lid — the CBD tincture — and setting it on a table. He then picks up paperwork and compares it to the bucket with the blue lid. He looks at a whiteboard at the end of the production area that explains directions for what batches are to be mixed that day.
Drain then goes into the cage again and looks at a bucket with a white lid. He pulls out a white-lidded bucket, carries it to the bottling area and swaps it with the blue-lidded bucket. He then takes the bucket with the blue lid back to the security cage.
The video shows Drain comparing the tag from the white-lidded bucket to the whiteboard and comparing it to the paperwork. Soon after, the video shows Drain bottling the product from the bucket with the white lid.
Drain confirmed to OLCC that he was the person in the video and that he may have taken the ID tag off a bucket and accidentally switched it with the tag from the other bucket.
The OLCC said Curaleaf has been cooperative throughout the investigation and recall and the company has taken proactive measures to ensure an incident like this does not happen again. Curaleaf is based in Massachusetts but has facilities in Oregon.
As of October 26, 2021, all recalled products were either returned to Cura Cannabis Solutions or destroyed by retail licensees.