THC mispackaged as CBD brings 7 lawsuits against U.S. cannabis giant

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Massachusetts-based cannabis company Curaleaf Holdings Inc. is facing a total of seven federal lawsuits over products the purchasers say gave them health scares. The cases have been filed by consumers who ingested THC from products mistakenly packaged as Curaleaf’s Select-brand CBD drops.

The plaintiffs in the cases, all filed by the same attorney in U.S. District Court in Oregon, said they suffered a range of unwelcome symptoms after taking the drops. Each is seeking compensation up to 1% of Curaleaf’s net worth – roughly $100 million based on a report earlier this year in which the company estimated its market capitalization at more than $10 billion.

‘Human error’

Curaleaf has said “unintentional human error” led to the production of a batch of CBD drops that were actually THC drops, and vice versa. The company said it cooperated with Oregon regulators in a recall of the mixed batches, and is reviewing its production processes to prevent similar problems in the future.

Approximately 500 bottles labeled as CBD drops that contained elevated levels of THC were sold before the recall; 630 bottles labeled as THC drops but containing primarily CBD were also sold, the company said. Some customers who took drops from the mislabeled CBD packages may have mistakenly received more than 30 milligrams of THC.

The complaints

Among adverse effects reported by plaintiffs in the lawsuits:

  • Michael Lopez, a 79-year-old Idaho man, claims he ended up in the emergency room and underwent an unnecessary operation after doctors, believing he was suffering a stroke, performed surgery to remove a potentially infected hematoma in his leg.
  • Idaho resident Jason Crawforth said in his September lawsuit that he needed emergency room treatment, and was unable to drive a car after taking the tainted product. He also said he suffered anxiety, acute psychosis, discomfort, and distress.
  • Kathleen Menard, of Oregon, said she experienced “unwanted hallucinations, confusion, stress, anxiety, psychosis, discomfort, and distress lasting over 24 hours.” She also filed suit in September. 
  • Oregon resident Ayuba Agbonkhese, who filed the most recent lawsuit, said he needed “immediate medical treatment in the emergency room, and experienced harm including the belief he was going to die, shaking, racing heart, psychosis, discomfort, and distress, and interference with life activities.” His suit was filed Nov. 19.

All seven cases were filed by Portland attorney Michael Fuller.

Cannabis giant

Oregon officials have allowed Curaleaf to continue normal business operations in the state as an Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission investigation continues.

Curaleaf reported earlier this year that it is selling cannabis at a rate of $1 billion per year. The company is one of the largest multi-state cannabis operators in the U.S., with more than 100 retail dispensaries and roughly 2,000 wholesale partners.

Shares in Curaleaf trade over-the-counter on the Canadian Securities Exchange. The company is 30% owned by Russian-American businessman Boris Jordan, who is reported to be worth $1.6 billion.

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