Updated at 3:25 p.m
The state of Minnesota is suing several companies for selling edible candy modeled after gummy bears that allegedly contained more than 50 times the amount of THC allowed per pack under state law.
The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy filed a lawsuit in northwest Minnesota’s Clay County on Monday, alleging that Northland Vapor and Wonky Confections are selling Death by Gummy Bears that contain 100 milligrams of THC per serving, more than 20 times Minnesota’s legal limit. . Northland Vapor has retail operations in Bemidji and Moorhead.
“Due to the sheer volume and severity of the products, we moved quickly to embargo,” Jill Phillips, executive director of the pharmacy board, told reporters Monday afternoon. The agency oversees hemp-derived cannabinoids.
In July, the board received 46 complaints that led to investigations since a law change allowed large-scale sales of THC products. Phillips said it was the first time he filed a lawsuit to stop sales of the products.
THC is the chemical compound that gives cannabis its high. That much THC per serving is a “potently intoxicating dose” that users should “consume with caution and intention,” experts say.
The Minnesota lawsuit says the companies’ owner, Brett Erpelding, admitted to investigators that they sold products that did not comply with Minnesota law, but said the products were not sold in Minnesota.
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Investigators later visited the Moorhead store and discovered the products on the store shelves.
State authorities allege Erpelding had more than 140,000 packages of edibles containing up to 100 milligrams of THC per serving at his warehouse in Moorhead. In addition to the Death by Gummy Bears brand, authorities said another product under the Wonky Weeds brand also contained more THC than the law allows.
The state wants the company to destroy the existing products, notify the state where other products are sold in Minnesota and ban future sales of the products.
“We take this conduct seriously and look forward to continuing our work together to protect Minnesotans by holding bad actors accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Hans Anderson, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.
The FDA first alerted the state board to the potential concerns after receiving reports of young people falling ill after consuming the gum. Some needed hospital treatment. Messages left with Northland Vapor and two partner companies were not immediately returned.
Messages sent to company representatives were not returned.
Minnesota passed a law earlier this year allowing the sale of THC-infused food and drinks, but said individual servings cannot contain more than 5 milligrams of THC per serving.
This is what the critics said Minnesota law does not contain significant enforcement powers, does not require manufacturers to license, and warns that many products may be dangerous to the public.
The board of pharmacy, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, investigated Erpelding’s companies after the FDA was notified in October that a healthy 23-year-old man in West Virginia had died after consuming 10 Death by Gummy Bears products. The cause of death in the incident is not yet known.
In November, the FDA received another complaint in which five Iowa high school students became ill after eating products infused with THC. Two of the students were sent to the emergency room, the complaint said.