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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
June 12, 2018

Synthetic Cannabidiol Poisoning

JAMA. 2018;319(22):2264. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.7219

More than 50 people in Utah were sickened by synthetic or counterfeit cannabidiol (CBD) between October 2017 and January 2018, according to a study presented at CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference in mid-April.

Cannabidiol oil, an extract of Cannabis sativa, has become a popular supplement among individuals seeking relief from anxiety and other conditions. Although some studies are under way to determine if it would be useful in the treatment of epilepsy or other conditions, there are no US Food and Drug Administration–approved products, according to lead author Roberta Horth, PhD, MPH, a CDC EIS officer assigned to the Utah Department of Health. Five samples of products labeled as CBD collected from individuals sickened in Utah contained 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA, a form of synthetic cannabinoid, and no CBD. Those sickened reported taking the products sublingually (17.6%) or by vaping (72.5%). In 60% of these cases, symptoms including altered mental status, vomiting, seizures, or shaking preceded hospitalization. Many users (66.7%) reported purchasing the fake CBD products from tobacco stores.