Officials continue to urge caution with CBD products

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State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs speaks at today’s press conference. Photo by News Mississippi

The morning after two more cases of a vaping-related lung illness were reported in Mississippi, top public safety and health officials held a press conference to discuss the ongoing concerns and dangers surrounding CBD products available for purchase in the state. 

While both hemp and marijuana are illegal in Mississippi, CBD products are becoming increasingly more available. During today’s press conference, officials warned that just because these products are labeled as ‘CBD’, other ingredients may find their way into the oils and other products being sold. 

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety and the Mississippi State Department of Health stated that there is currently no federal or state oversight for products containing CBD, and no studies are available validating the safe use of CBD oil. The agencies are stressing that until there are scientific studies and oversight – it is not safe to use CBD oil regardless of where you purchase it. 

“Testing of CBD products purchased around the state have shown that the overwhelming majority of CBD products are mislabeled. A large number of the products contain narcotics that are illegal under both state and federal law. The public safety and health concerns arising from the sale and use of these products are alarming,” said John Dowdy, Director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. 

Related: Officials worried by lack of CBD regulation

In August 2018, seven arrests were made after 24,000 mislabeled units of CBD were seized around the Jackson metro area, and they were later identified as “liquid spice” by the state crime lab. Dowdy noted that at least two of the units contained the deadly substance known as fentanyl. 

Dowdy’s concerns were echoed by State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, who fears that unsuspecting customers may be affected. 

“People have a general sense of safety with these CBD products. If they buy something that they think is from a legitimate company that makes CBD, which most people think is safe and maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but they don’t know what they’re getting,” Dr. Dobbs said.

He went on to say that officials are worried that people who read that CBD products may be helpful for medical issues could end up being exposed to harmful ingredients that could lead to severe health consequences.

Moving forward, Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher stated that the department will continue to advise state leaders on the dangers of these unregulated products as they hope to address the concerns raised by officials during today’s press conference. 

“We have no idea what ingredients or amounts are in these products and without proper labeling, you do not know what you are consuming and that is dangerous,” Fisher said. 

Nationwide, as of October 15, there have been 1,479 cases of vaping-related lung illness reported from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory. Thirty-three deaths have been reported from 24 states. Mississippi has seen seven cases with one death.

While many of the cases in the U.S. report vaping cannabis products in addition to nicotine products, no specific product such as the device, liquid, refill pods or cartridge has been clearly identified as the cause of illness.

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