U.S. health officials are urging states to regulate marijuana oil extracts after investigating a rash of illnesses tied to the products in Utah.
In a report released Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that synthetic products falsely labeled as cannabidiol, or CBD, sickened as many as 52 people from October through January.
The CDC urged states to set up regulatory and control systems “to minimize the risk for recurrences of this emerging public health threat.”
CBD is derived from cannabis but is designed not to produce a high. Users say it provides relief from pain and can fight seizures.
This year, Utah passed a new law that supporters say will prevent the illnesses from happening again.
The oil had previously been in a legal gray area. It’s been legal for people with epilepsy in Utah since 2014, but there is no regulatory system to oversee the oil’s safety.
Bottles labeled as CBD have edged their way into Utah smoke shops and health food stores in recent years. Sales to the general public have been technically illegal but largely ignored by authorities.
“It’s been a little bit of a don’t ask, don’t tell kind of a business,” said Jack Wilbur, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
There’s been no way for consumers to know if products are what they claim to be, he said.
The CDC report this week found that more than half of the 52 possible cases either tested positive for a synthetic compound called 4-CCB or reporting using a product called Yolo CBD Oil, samples of which contained the synthetic instead of authentic CBD. Efforts to determine what company manufactures Yolo CBD Oil were not successful.
Lt. Ryan Van Fleet, head of major crimes in the State Bureau of Investigation, said no charges were filed or stores were raided based on the illnesses.