Safety is always a concern when new consumer products make it to market. When you are talking about products that people ingest, safety becomes even more important. Cannabis regulators are learning this firsthand as more and more states legalize both recreational and medical cannabis. They are being forced to address safety issues that apparently hadn’t been thought of before.
A case in point involves a production mishap that resulted in the state of Oregon recalling a bunch of CBD drops and fining the company that produced them a record $200,000. The company is also facing a 70-day suspension of its license to do business in the state.
A Bottling Mix-up
According to news reports, a Curaleaf production facility in Portland sold mislabeled products to unsuspecting consumers after a bottling mix-up. Apparently, the facility stored both CBD and THC liquids in similar buckets and very close to one another. Employees were expected to distinguish between the two materials based on the colors of the bucket lids and ID tags affixed to the handles.
For reasons the company has yet to explain, an employee tasked with bottling the liquids got them mixed up. The CBD liquid was put into bottles labeled THC and vice-versa. No one was the wiser when the bottles went out for sale. At least 523 were purchased by customers.
The state only learned about the mishap when customers began complaining of adverse side effects from what they thought was a CBD product. In one incident that caught the state’s attention, an Idaho man who had purchased drops in Oregon nearly crashed his RV after suffering the effects of THC intoxication.
Accidents Will Happen
In fairness, Curaleaf did everything by the book according to Oregon state law. What happened was an honest mistake. Even in the cannabis business, mistakes will happen. Nonetheless, state regulators are now working on changes to the law in hopes of preventing similar incidents in the future. The company has also made internal changes as well.
It is fortunate that no one was seriously injured or killed as a result of the mix-up. Imagine the uproar against the legal cannabis industry if the Idaho man had crashed his rig and been seriously injured. The long knives would have come out, that’s for sure.
At any rate, Curaleaf’s mistake is evidence that the industry is still working all the kinks out. Cannabis legalization is still fairly new across the country, and it is going to take some time before regulations and best practices catch up to how consumers are actually purchasing and utilizing cannabis.
Keeping Regulations Tight
It is not hard to imagine that safety issues like the Curaleaf mishap will cause regulators in some states to continue controlling things as tightly as possible. Utah immediately comes to mind. In the Beehive State, consumers only have access to medical cannabis. And according to Deseret Wellness in Provo, cannabis can only be purchased from a state-licensed medical cannabis pharmacy.
Will safety concerns cause other states to be more restrictive? Will California, Colorado, and Oregon lead the way in more tightly controlling production and distribution? That remains to be seen. But there is little doubt that state regulators will be dealing with more safety issues in the months and years to come.
The legal cannabis industry has a long way to go before it reaches maturity. Operators are learning as they go, as are the regulators who write the rules. Each new safety incident will force both to come up with new and better ways to make things safer for consumers. That is the way it should be.