Minnesota Board of Pharmacy sues edible cannabinoids companies

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy on Monday sued a collection of Moorhead-based manufacturers and retailers of edible cannabinoids.

The board filed a civil lawsuit in Clay County District Court against Northland Vapor Company Moorhead, Northland Vapor Company Bemidji and Wonky Confections.

The board said in a Dec. 5 news release that the companies, which are collectively Northland Vapor, violated Minnesota’s edible cannabinoid laws by selling products with more than five milligrams of hemp-derived tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per serving or more than 50 milligrams per package and products that are modeled after common gummy bear candies that are primarily consumed by and marketed to children. The companies also didn’t provide the board required testing results to show whether their products contain prohibited substances, like pesticides, heavy metals and solvents, according to the release.

The board and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 8 began inspecting Northland Vapor’s manufacturing warehouse in Moorhead. They found about 29,000 packages of Death by Gummy Bears that contained 2,500 milligrams of THC; about 113,000 packages that contained about 1,000 milligrams of THC; about 2,400 packages of Wonky Weeds Gummies labeled as having about 300 milligrams of THC per package and about 2,300 bottles of Wonky Weeds THC Syrup, each with 700 milligrams of THC, according to labels.

The board embargoed the products. It asked the court to destroy the more than $7 million worth of products and to prevent Northland Vapor from manufacturing and selling illegal edible cannabinoid products.

The FDA received complaints about serious adverse events, including a death, linked to Northland Vapor’s Death by Gummy Bears delta-8 THC products. The FDA hasn’t determined that the products caused those events. Its investigation is ongoing.

The board said consumers shouldn’t use the Death by Gummy Bears and Wonky Weeds products that have more THC than state law allows. Anyone who experiences serious side effects from the products should call 911 or the local poison control center, at 1-800-222-1222. If a child consumes the products, then a guardian should immediately seek emergency care, regardless of symptoms. Adverse events with cannabis-derived products should be reported to the FDA via MedWatch.

Rep. Heather Edelson, DFL-Edina, who authored the law that the board said the businesses violated, said she supports the board’s embargo and temporary injunction to seize and destroy products that don’t comply with Minnesota law, to protect consumers to protect consumers. Shesaid legislators will seek changes in licensure, enforcement and taxation of hemp in the 2023 session.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, said enforcement isn’t sufficient for legislators’ 2022 law for selling food and beverages with THC.

“This lawsuit underscores the advantages of establishing a regulated market for adult-use cannabis and enforcing those regulations against bad actors,” Winkler said.

Winkler was the lead author of a bill, HF 600, to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use. The Minnesota House passed it with bipartisan support in May 2021, but its companion, SF 757, didn’t make it onto the floor of the Senate.

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