A patient at a local hospital had been taking cannabidiol (CBD) oil for seizures, but rather than helping control the seizures — as expected — the oil was making the patient sick.
The Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) picked up the oil and had it analyzed. The bottle in question didn’t contain CBD oil, as the label said, but a synthetic spice-like substance, said UPCC Director Barbara Crouch.
As a result, the UPCC and Department of Public Safety (DPS) have issued a warning regarding a product labeled as “CBD” oil that is being sold at area smoke shops.
Since early November, UPCC has received 19 reports from patients who became ill after using the oil. Patients reported an altered mental status, seizures, confusion, loss of consciousness and slurred speech after ingesting what looked like CBD oil.
Those symptoms aren’t consistent with CBD oil, said Crouch, who added that the oil, whcih is a component of the marijuana plant, isn’t supposed to have psychological properties.
The oil is authorized for restricted medical use in Utah for people with intractable seizures — also called “uncontrolled” seizures — who are diagnosed by a neurologist, according to a DPS news release. Those patients are given a hemp extraction registration card by the state of Utah.
After hearing several reports of people getting ill, Crouch called the Utah Department of Health, which opened an investigation along with DPS and the Utah State Bureau of Investigations.
The reports came from people who had bought the oil from smoke shops across the Wasatch Front, she said.
Crouch went into a smoke shop herself, she said, and bought a bottle of the oil to investigate. The label looked similar to a common brand name, she said, but it was phony.
“In our opinion, it’s people trying to skirt the law,” said Department of Public Safety Lt. Todd Royce. “And it’s dangerous.”
Investigators are working to determine where the synthetic oil originated and how it got into local smoke shops.
In the meantime, Crouch said, the biggest concern is making people “aware of the fact that this is being sold as CBD, but it’s not.”
Anyone experiencing strange symptoms from CBD oil or hemp oil is encouraged to call UPCC at 1-800-222-1222