Fake CBD oil causes 52 Utahns to fall ill, lawmakers pass bill to crack down on sales, use

Mar 6, 2018, 10:19 PM | Updated: Mar 7, 2018, 6:25 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Similar to the epidemic of K2 or Spice and use of synthetic marijuana, the sale of synthetic CBD oil has hit the Utah black market.

“It’s buyer beware, you don’t know what you’re getting,” said Roberta Horth, epidemic intelligence service officer with the Utah Department of Health (DOH), and representative for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although the sale of CBD oil, or cannabidiol oil, is illegal on the federal level, during the 2014 Utah legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill allowing Utah residents, or their dependents, being treated for epilepsy, to possess CBD oil, as a means of treatment. 

“The only exception is people with intractable seizures that have been diagnosed by their physician, and they have obtained a hemp extract card from the Utah Department of Health,” Horth said.

However, outside of that exception, the Utah DOH, CDC, Department of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other local and federal agencies have discovered another problem: rogue retailers selling fake CBD oil to recreational consumers.

“We’re lucky that we haven’t seen any fatalities right now,” Horth said.

From October 2017 to the end of January 2018, Horth said the Utah DOH was notified of a cluster of adverse reactions following use of CBD oil found to contain a synthetic cannabinoid, a substance called “Cumyl butainaca.” It resulted in 52 people reporting being ill and 30 hospitalized, mostly in Salt Lake County.

Utah lawmakers are trying to curb this problem through legislation. Republican Sen.Evan Vickers is the sponsor of Senate Bill 130, or the “Cannabidiol Product Act.” The bill, cycling through the 2018 legislature, would require the State Department of Agriculture to regulate the sale of CBD oil. It would also require regulation at the state level, so authorities could have the ability to discipline and stop any seller currently violating the law by selling CBD oil that is high in THC content, or is “found to be laced with Spice.”

SB130 would also obtain a waiver from the federal DEA, allowing physicians to be able to prescribe CBD oil products of various forms to their patients directly.

Tuesday SB130 passed both the Utah House and Senate and will now move to Governor Gary Herbert’s desk for approval.

The Utah DOH is seeking to determine the impact of this outbreak beyond Utah. If you have identified any similar cases, please contact Roberta Horth at hxw5@cdc.gov or 801-538-9465.

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Fake CBD oil causes 52 Utahns to fall ill, lawmakers pass bill to crack down on sales, use