Kanna Knowledge 

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For those of your insureds selling cannabis products in dispensaries or online, Kanna Knowledge has reported on the dangers Federal agencies pose for certain cannabinoids that are both dangerous and even illegal. The FDA has stepped up in various jurisdictions. And now here comes the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after those businesses using incorrect/false/ advertising and insidious claims to sell product.

In San Diego during the last two years the DEA has hooked up with Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) and the local State’s Attorney, to make undercover purchases at several retail cannabis companies that were selling synthetic cannabinoids. Their initial reports say there is a national epidemic related to dangerous chemicals designed to mimic the effects of marijuana. In most cases the chemicals are sprayed on plants being grown by the company or its supplier, which has resulted in an increase in hospital/poison center visits from spice-related emergencies.

A partial list of drugs includes psychoactive bath salts and herbal incenses, many often sold under the names Mr. Nice Guy, California Dreams, Scooby Snaxx, Spicy Good, Green Buddha, 24K, and Nuclear Bomb. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, elevated blood pressure, and reduced blood supply to the heart.

In one case brought, a California shop called “Aroma Avenue” was selling “Spice” banned by California as a dangerous synthetic drug. Another business named Cabana Smoke Shop paid a $225,000 fine. So the ultimate question is: Are your insureds in this business as well, and will the carriers cover these losses?

The situation is NOT limited to California. In Florida a 14-year-old boy was sent to the emergency room after experiencing seizures and breathing challenges after he and his brother smoked herbal incense. In West Texas a 17-year-old boy was hospitalized after smoking synthetic marijuana and becoming sick on his school bus. Some statistics reveal that these episodes have reached the thousands in 2021.

The DEA has placed 5 synthetic drugs on the Federal Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. Punishment for selling these resemble those for marijuana, LSD, and heroin. The DEA is staffing up to arrest and fine those businesses guilty of selling the synthetics. There are currently NO accepted MEDICAL USE OR SAFETY STANDARDS for use of these drugs, even under medical supervision.

One researcher, a director of the Missouri Regional Poison Center, has conducted a study of the effects synthetic marijuana has on humans. He reported serious effects on the cardiovascular and central nervous systems of his study members. One death occurred in Iowa after a teenager committed suicide by using a synthetic.

One related serious issue is that doctors in emergency departments have a hard time distinguishing what is the medical root cause of these suicidal and physiological symptoms’ origination. In many cases the medical teams call poison centers to determine if a synthetic has been used to cause such unusual symptoms, particularly in young people.

One thing is clear: There has been a dramatic increase in cases described here and insurance brokers and carriers need to be aware of the root causes for the claims in order to defend lawsuits brought after an untoward event. The world of “getting high” has changed so be cautious with your insureds and educate them.

See you next time …

Michael and Melissa