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Woman With Utah Ties Faces Jail Time For Selling Illegal CBD Vapes

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A woman with Utah ties faces up to 40 years in prison for sickening more than 50 people in Utah after peddling counterfeit CBD vapes.

Janell Thompson ran a company known as YOLO — an acronym for “you only live once.” However, it was a phone call into the Utah Poison Control Center that helped crack the case.

Lately, the news has been full of vaping-related lung illnesses, but the cases tied to YOLO were different. Patients presented with symptoms of hallucinations and in some cases, even seizures.

Barbara Insley Crouch is the executive director at the Utah Poison Control Center. She has handled thousands of calls during her 29 years with poison control.

“About 60% of our cases involve children under the age of 6,” she said.

Between late 2017 and early 2018, Crouch said the calls got a little strange.

“There were calls from emergency room doctors telling us of patients coming in with seizures, hallucinations and loss of consciousness,” she said.

All patients claimed they had been vaping CBD.

“This did not make sense and was not adding up right,” she said.

CBD is the non-THC part of a marijuana plant, so those symptoms should not be happening.

“I alerted the health department and they launched an investigation,” she said.

Investigators tested the product and found no CBD present.

“What they ended up finding was a synthetic marijuana or spice-like compound,” she said.

Then, the next month Crouch got another call.

“I got a call from this woman who said she thought she knew the source of this synthetic (drug) and that she knew who was manufacturing and supplying this product.”

The company was called YOLO.

Crouch alerted local authorities of the woman and the telephone tip. As time went on, the calls stopped.

“I never knew what happened,” she said.

Until Monday, when she heard that the woman at the center of it all pleaded guilty.

“It was interesting to see it come full circle,” she said.

Crouch’s retirement is nearing and the days of being in the poison control are numbered, but the call that ended a mystery illness affecting so many Utahns is one she will likely always remember.

“It’s amazing to see this sort of mystery finally be solved,” she said.

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