People Who Live In States Where Cannabis Is Legal Have More Sex, Study Finds

If cannabis gets you in the mood, you’re not alone — science says so. A study whose findings were recently released by the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University found that in states where medical marijuana was legalized, the rate of sexual activity went up.

The study’s co-author, University of Connecticut assistant professor David Simon, told Yahoo News that he wasn’t ready to comment on whether this finding was a good or bad thing but, “Regardless, we believe it should be something society/policy makers consider as part of the conversation on legalization.”

But wait, there’s more! In those same states with medical cannabis regulation, there was an uptick in birth rates by a mean of two percent, and a drop in the use of contraceptives while having sex. 

Also — attention, please! — medical marijuana legalization may be associated with a year one uptick in a state’s gonorrhea rates. 

Does Legal Bud Lead to Babies?

The states that were studied had regulated medicinal cannabis between 2005 and 2014, and the study specifically analyzed the sexual and reproductive behavior of people in their 20s and 30s. 

The increase in babies being born was enough to counteract what has sometimes been identified as a negative correlation between cannabis usage and the ability for couples to get pregnant and have a healthy neonatal period. 

The study’s co-author, University of Connecticut assistant professor David Simon, told Yahoo News that the surge in baby-making could be due to weed’s positive effects on people’s lives. The academic said that cannabis “treats chronic pain, improves life satisfaction, and decreases opioid abuse, it could result in heightened libidos/improved sex life.”

These findings would point to cannabis influencing birth rates positively through behavioral effects. But the jury is still out on whether biologically, marijuana has a positive or negative impact on fertility. Some studies have suggested that using marijuana causes a drop in sperm count (though some have indicated the reverse) and can be a hurdle for couples that are already experiencing challenges with being able to have a baby. Some investigations have concluded that cannabis can make it difficult for people with uteruses to produce certain hormones that aid in the baby-making process. Others have found that CBD can be helpful to pregnant people. 

Lack of scientific consensus aside, the US government has decided where it stands, at least when it comes to pregnant people. Last August, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams cautioned those with a bun in the oven to avoid using cannabis at a press conference. Joining him was Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II, who told reporters, “This is a dangerous drug. No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is safe.”

But Simon has a slightly different take on cannabis and your reproductive health, particularly when it comes to recent market innovations in the area of marijuana-based lubricants and other sexual aids. “With the liberalization of marijuana laws there has been an increase in cannabis-based products designed to improve sexual wellness, including products that help remove anxiety or pain associated with sex,” he commented. 

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People Who Live In States Where Cannabis Is Legal Have More Sex, Study Finds

If cannabis gets you in the mood, you’re not alone — science says so. A study whose findings were recently released by the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University found that in states where medical marijuana was legalized, the rate of sexual activity went up.

The study’s co-author, University of Connecticut assistant professor David Simon, told Yahoo News that he wasn’t ready to comment on whether this finding was a good or bad thing but, “Regardless, we believe it should be something society/policy makers consider as part of the conversation on legalization.”

But wait, there’s more! In those same states with medical cannabis regulation, there was an uptick in birth rates by a mean of two percent, and a drop in the use of contraceptives while having sex. 

Also — attention, please! — medical marijuana legalization may be associated with a year one uptick in a state’s gonorrhea rates. 

Does Legal Bud Lead to Babies?

The states that were studied had regulated medicinal cannabis between 2005 and 2014, and the study specifically analyzed the sexual and reproductive behavior of people in their 20s and 30s. 

The increase in babies being born was enough to counteract what has sometimes been identified as a negative correlation between cannabis usage and the ability for couples to get pregnant and have a healthy neonatal period. 

The study’s co-author, University of Connecticut assistant professor David Simon, told Yahoo News that the surge in baby-making could be due to weed’s positive effects on people’s lives. The academic said that cannabis “treats chronic pain, improves life satisfaction, and decreases opioid abuse, it could result in heightened libidos/improved sex life.”

These findings would point to cannabis influencing birth rates positively through behavioral effects. But the jury is still out on whether biologically, marijuana has a positive or negative impact on fertility. Some studies have suggested that using marijuana causes a drop in sperm count (though some have indicated the reverse) and can be a hurdle for couples that are already experiencing challenges with being able to have a baby. Some investigations have concluded that cannabis can make it difficult for people with uteruses to produce certain hormones that aid in the baby-making process. Others have found that CBD can be helpful to pregnant people. 

Lack of scientific consensus aside, the US government has decided where it stands, at least when it comes to pregnant people. Last August, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams cautioned those with a bun in the oven to avoid using cannabis at a press conference. Joining him was Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II, who told reporters, “This is a dangerous drug. No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is safe.”

But Simon has a slightly different take on cannabis and your reproductive health, particularly when it comes to recent market innovations in the area of marijuana-based lubricants and other sexual aids. “With the liberalization of marijuana laws there has been an increase in cannabis-based products designed to improve sexual wellness, including products that help remove anxiety or pain associated with sex,” he commented. 

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County Officials In Colorado Launch ‘Marijuana Is Not Harmless’ Campaign

A Colorado county has launched a public service campaign to warn residents that there may be risks associated with using cannabis. The campaign, dubbed “Marijuana is Not Harmless,” was kicked off by the Weld County Health and Environment Department on Thursday.

Eric Aakko, a spokesman for the department, said that local officials want the public to realize that the legalization of marijuana does not imply that that cannabis use is risk-free. Colorado legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults in 2014.

“We decided we need to do something to create some awareness that it’s not harmless,” Aakko told local media. “We’re not hearing a lot of the downside of marijuana, it’s not a really strong message that’s out there.”

Aakko said that department officials are especially concerned about people driving while high.

“We’re looking at a report that says every three days a Coloradan dies in a marijuana-related traffic crash,” he said. “That’s the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report. We know traffic crashes are a problem in Weld County, where we’ve got 4,000 square miles and thousands and thousands of miles of roads. We wanted to get the message out there because if you are using marijuana, the worst thing that you can do is drive.”

Billboards and Online Ads

The “Marijuana Is Not Harmless” campaign includes billboards along county roads and online advertisements. The cost of the public awareness campaign is completely funded by grants, Aakko said.

County health officials have been compiling data to help them determine the health effects of several factors, including cannabis use.

“We do look every three years at a community health assessment — this year we mailed it to over 10,000 random residents — a scientifically valid survey we do every three years,” Aakko said. “In the past, we’ve noticed that people’s quality of life has been fairly good, but at the same time, we’re curious as to how that’s impacted when we get the data crunched from the 2019 survey. We do ask a few questions about marijuana use, and we don’t have the data yet, but we’re being proactive as well because we know from other studies.”

Those other studies, Aakko said, include a report from the National Institutes of Health’s National Drug Abuse Institute that was revised in December. The report warns that heavy cannabis users have decreased life satisfaction, poorer physical health, and more mental health problems.

“We can’t track definitively that it’s tied to marijuana per se, but we do track a number of those indicators, and once we get our data for 2019, we’ll look at trends over the last three years,” Aaakko said.

Jeri Shephard, a member of the board of directors for Colorado NORML, said that the county’s concern is ill-founded.

“There are some in the county commissioners’ office who tend to gravitate to ‘Reefer Madness’ analysis instead of understanding what the benefits that cannabis and hemp do have, even if you don’t use it yourself,” Shepherd said. “The Longmont City Council, for example, they had some concerns, but they’ve listened to people. And the (Weld) County commissioners are not known for listening to people.”

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New Lab Tests Show Dangers of Unregulated THC Vape Cartridges

New data from a California laboratory show that THC vape cartridges may carry a substantial risk of exposing users to harmful chemicals. And while the test results from analytic laboratory CannaSafe show that illicit market products pose the most danger, even carts from licensed companies may be unsafe if used improperly.

CannaSafe, a state-licensed cannabis laboratory in Los Angeles, conducted a study of THC vape cartridges that it obtained from both licensed dispensaries and unlicensed delivery services. The company completed a laboratory analysis of the cartridges that tested the vapor produced by the cartridges for the presence of harmless compounds. Unlike other tests that analyze the contents of cartridges, the new tests reveal the toxins present in vapor after cannabis oil is heated and vaporized prior to inhalation. Similar tests are currently being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its continuing investigation of the series of lung injuries caused by vaping that has claimed the lives of at least 40 people.

Dangers of Unlicensed Carts

All six of the illicit cartridges tested contained high levels of potentially harmful chemicals, including one labeled Maui Wowie that had 1,500 times the allowable level of pesticides and five times the legal concentration of lead. 

“It had everything bad in it,” said CannaSafe vice president of operations Antonio Frazier. “If you look at some of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] data for fatal dosing, I’d be willing to bet that some of these are over what they would consider a fatal dose.”

Vapor from counterfeit cartridges manufactured to mimic the products of licensed brands Stiiizy and Kingpen contained formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. The vapor of a cartridge sold under the illicit brand name Dank Vapes showed the presence of seven different pesticides, trace amounts of formaldehyde, and significant levels of vitamin E acetate, an additive used in many unregulated products. Vitamin E acetate has been identified by the CDC as a likely culprit in the spate of lung injuries known as e-cigarette and vaping product use associated lung injury, or EVALI. Five of the six illicit market cartridges contained vitamin E acetate at levels ranging from 30% to nearly 37%. Illicit cartridges also had lower levels of cannabinoids and terpenes than products from licensed manufacturers.

Legit Carts Can Be Dangerous, too

The vapor from carts from regulated companies showed no harmful chemicals when vaped to a temperature consistent with a vape battery of 3 volts. But when heated with a more powerful voltage, even the vapor of licensed carts showed the presence of harmful chemicals known as HPHCs, which are also found in tobacco smoke.

“At the high temperature, we found considerably high amounts of formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide in some of the illicit carts,” Frazier told High Times. “None of the legal products produced these three chemicals, but low levels of other harmful and potentially harmful constituents like benzene and toluene were found in the legal carts at higher voltages.”

To address the issue, Frazier recommends that cannabis manufacturers adopt more sophisticated vaping hardware as the industry standard.

“We know that a lot of our licensed partners have mechanisms to control temperature on their devices, and this same level of quality needs to be implemented across the industry,” he said. “Our current regulations give us the cleanest oil in the nation, and now we must update them to include hardware.”

Noting that most of the reported cases of EVALI appear to have been caused by THC vape cartridges purchased from unlicensed sources, Frazier says that the best way for consumers in legal states like California to protect themselves is to ensure that they are buying from a licensed retailer.

“CannaSafe continues to urge consumers to stay away from illicit cannabis products and to buy legal products from licensed dispensaries.”

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Doctors Perform Double Lung Transplant On Patient With Vaping Illness

Doctors at Henry Ford Health System say they just completed the first-ever double lung transplant on a patient suffering from vaping-related lung injuries. While the operation is a breakthrough, many health experts are also using it to warn the public about the potential dangers of vaping.

Recently, the U.S. and other countries have seen a spate of lung injuries—many of which have turned fatal—that experts believe are directly linked to vaping.

History-Making Surgery

Yesterday, the Henry Ford Health System, located in Detroit, Michigan, published a brief press release about the operation.

“A team of Henry Ford Health System medical experts performed what we believe is the first double lung transplant in the United States for a patient whose lungs were irreparably damaged from vaping,” the release stated.

According to the hospital, the patient has asked for his identity not to be released. However, the patient did give permission for the hospital to share updates and photos. According to the press release, the patient wants this information to help “warn others.”

So far, there has not been additional information besides this initial press release. But the hospital is scheduled to hold a press conference later today. At the conference, the hospital will likely provide updates on the patient’s status.

Lung Epidemic Linked to Vaping

This is the latest piece of news related to the ongoing epidemic of vaping-related lung illness. To date, the U.S. has seen more than 2,000 lung injuries. And experts say they are directly linked to vaping. Even worse, out of those injured, at least 39 patients have died.

The sudden uptick in vape-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths has become what many consider to be a public health crisis. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently said those numbers are dropping.

Cause of Epidemic Has Been Identified

Initially, experts were uncertain about the cause of these illnesses. But it appeared as if THC cartridges on the illicit market were especially dangerous.

In fact, one study from September showed that a high percentage of illegal vape cartridges contained a substance called vitamin E acetate. According to that study, 13 out of 15 illegal vapes had vitamin E.

Vitamin E acetate is reportedly used as a thickening agent in some vaping liquid. But when vaporized and inhaled, the substance can quickly become harmful, even deadly.

Since the release of that study in September, the CDC has focused even more on the dangers of vitamin E acetate. Just last Friday, the agency confirmed that the substance is likely the cause of the recent lung injuries.

“For the first time, we have detected a potential toxin of concern: vitamin E acetate,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC. “These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lung.”

Now, in the wake of the recent double lung transplant, health experts are once again reminding the public of the potential dangers of vaping.

“It would be nice if it’s the last—if the epidemic of acute lung injury can be brought under control” professor of medicine Dr. David Christian told media source Global News.

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Vitamin E Acetate Confirmed Culprit In Vaping Illnesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Friday that the additive vitamin E acetate is the likely cause of the nation’s rash of lung injuries caused by vaping. Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the CDC, told reporters that the additive, which received early attention as a potential cause of e-cigarette or vaping product use–associated lung injury (EVALI), was found in the lung tissue of patients by investigators.

“For the first time, we have detected a potential toxin of concern: vitamin E acetate,” Schuchat said. The CDC referred to the discovery as a “breakthrough.”

The investigators had tested fluid samples in a study of 29 EVALI patients from 10 states and had found vitamin E acetate in all 29 cases. No other oils, including plant oils or mineral oil, were found in the samples.

“These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lung,” Schuchat added.

Vitamin E acetate is a synthetic form of the nutrient that is commonly used in nutritional supplements, foods, and personal care products. When taken orally or applied topically, it is generally considered safe. When inhaled, however, vitamin E acetate can coat the lungs, causing difficulty breathing and other serious health effects.

Unlicensed THC Products Under Scrutiny

In September, the New York Department of Health announced that it had discovered vitamin E acetate in nearly all of the cannabis vape cartridges associated with the vaping illnesses. On Friday, the Cannabis Trade Federation urged legal cannabis businesses to avoid the additive.

“While it still appears these health incidents are primarily associated with the use of illicit THC vape products, we urge members of the regulated cannabis industry to be vigilant and review all of their vaping products to ensure they are free of vitamin E acetate,” the statement reads.

The industry group also urged officials in states that have regulated cannabis for medical or recreational use to ensure that vitamin E acetate is clearly prohibited by state regulations from being used in any cannabis products meant to be inhaled.

“This health crisis and the recent breakthrough in the investigation underscore the importance of existing state cannabis regulations, as well as the need for strict cannabis regulation at both the state and federal levels,” added the CTF.

Also on Friday, the CDC revealed in a separate report that the Illinois Department of Health had found that a majority of the EVALI patients in that state had said that they had used THC cartridges that had been purchased on the street or from friends rather than from licensed dispensaries.

Health officials also compared patient data with the responses of 4,000 individuals who said they vaped but had not become ill. Among them, 94% said that they had only vaped nicotine products.

Dr. Jennifer Layden, the chief medical officer for Illinois said that those who were sick were “roughly nine times more likely to obtain the THC-containing products from informal sources, such as a dealer, off the street or from a friend, compared to survey respondents.”

Patients treated for EVALI were also eight times more likely than healthy respondents to report using the THC cartridges sold under the counterfeit brand Dank Vapes.

Although the CDC says it has confirmed that vitamin E acetate is causing at least some cases of the mysterious lung illnesses, they can not rule out the possibility of other causes. As of Thursday, the federal agency says that there have been 2,051 cases of EVALI. Of those, 39 patients have died.

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CDC Announces Vape-Related Illnesses Appear To Be Declining

It appears that the mysterious vaping-related illness sweeping the United States has started to slow down. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the casualty rate for the as-yet-unexplained health condition is “leveling off or even declining.”

The most recent victim count — calculated last Tuesday — stands at 1,604 individuals who have shown signs of the condition. 125 cases were diagnosed over the last week, and 34 people have died from the illness.

“It’s serious and potentially fatal, but it is preventable,” said CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat to reporters. “There could be more than one cause.”

She said that the dip in cases might be due to the measures that authorities have taken to regulate the products. There has also been a wave of high profile arrests made of illegal vaporizing product manufacturers, and busts of brands found to be making dangerous vape products.

Schuchat also presented a hypothesis that e-cigarette use led teenagers to use “risky products” that cause the lung condition. Some authorities have blamed the spate of lung injuries on additives in vaping products, like the vitamin E acetate that is sometimes used as a thickening agent. The official also raised her concern over how winter-time flus and other respiratory illnesses could affect the people who have been stricken with the vape-related sickness.

Earlier this month, a Mayo Clinic surgical pathologist released a report based on findings from examining 17 victims. The investigation found that the lung condition showed similarities with chemical burns, as when individuals inhale mustard gas.

Vape-Related Illness Now Has a Name

Officials have started calling the lung condition EVALI, which stands for “e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury.” Concern over the illness has led many states and city governments to put temporary bans on e-cigarette and vaping products. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker’s ban on all vapes has faced legal challenges, but was recently ruled as acceptable by a state judge.

In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has vowed to fight the state’s Supreme Court decision to block her ban of flavored e-cigs. The prohibition had been in effect for two weeks, after a month-long delay in implementation. Whitmer likened the urgency of the ban to the concern over her state’s water quality. “After seeing how the Flint water crisis was mishandled, it’s more important than ever that we listen to our public health officials when they make recommendations to protect our citizens,” she said.

Those are far from the only challenges to new vaping restrictions. In Utah, retailers sued the state’s Department of Health over creating the ban without public comment, claiming that the prohibition would severely harm their businesses.

Earlier this month, a group of governors from Northeastern states came together to discuss tactics for standardizing the regulation of vaping. One potential measure for the region was banning flavored e-cigarette products across the board, in hopes of slowing down the popularity of vaping among teenagers.

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Governor of Michigan Takes Her Vaping Ban Decision To Supreme Court

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said on Friday that she would appeal a decision blocking her ban of flavored e-cigarettes to the state Supreme Court, comparing the dangers of vaping to the Flint water crisis. Whitmer announced the ban in September, saying that the nation’s ongoing spate of serious lung injuries that have been linked to vaping constituted a public health emergency.

“As governor, I’m going to do it unilaterally until I can get the legislature to adopt a statute and write it into law,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer told MSNBC at the time. “This is too important.”

Ban Blocked by Lower Court

But after vape shops filed suit to block the governor’s executive order, the Michigan Court of Claims put the ban on hold after it had been in effect for only two weeks, calling into question the emergency nature of the action because of a nearly month-long delay in implementing it. Judge Cynthia Stephens also noted that evidence suggests that some adult e-cigarette users would return to smoking if flavored vaping products are taken off the market.

Whitmer filed an application for emergency leave with the Michigan Court of Appeals and asked the state Supreme Court to take the case. The governor’s office said that the lower court ruling “would seriously undermine the Governor’s ability to respond to emergent threats to public health, safety, and welfare.”

“After seeing how the Flint water crisis was mishandled, it’s more important than ever that we listen to our public health officials when they make recommendations to protect our citizens,” Whitmer said.

“Our Chief Medical Officer has found that the explosive increase in youth vaping that we’ve seen over the past few years is a public health emergency. For the sake of our kids and our overall public health, we must act swiftly to get these harmful and addictive products off the market,” she added. “I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court will immediately take up this case so we can ensure our kids’ safety.”

Whitmer Says Decision Compromises Public Health

Whitmer’s application for emergency leave stated that “the court of claims not only misunderstood the law and errantly issued a preliminary injunction, it also fundamentally compromised both the public health of this state and the exercise of core and critical power of the executive branch.”

“By enjoining Defendants from enforcing the Rules that were enacted to address this emergency, the court of claims left this state paralyzed in a perilous status quo, and marked out a form of judicial intervention that is both dangerous and contrary to law: courts second-guessing the expert judgment of public health officials dealing with a public health emergency,” the filing continued.

As of October 25, Michigan has reported 44 probable and confirmed cases of lung injury caused by vaping, with one fatality. Patients have reported using vape products containing THC in 81% of the cases.

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Vaping Trailblazer Reportedly Sold Dangerous Synthetic Marijuana

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Some of the people rushing to emergency rooms thought the CBD vape they inhaled would help like a gentle medicine. Others puffed it for fun.

What the vapors delivered instead was a jolt of
synthetic marijuana, and with it an intense high of hallucinations and
even seizures.

More than 50 people around Salt Lake City had been poisoned by the time the outbreak ended early last year, most by a vape called Yolo! — the acronym for “you only live once.”

In recent
months, hundreds of vape users have developed mysterious lung illnesses,
and more than 30 have died. Yolo was different. Users knew immediately
something was wrong.

Who was responsible for Yolo? Public health officials and criminal investigators couldn’t figure that out. Just as it seemed to appear from nowhere, Yolo faded away with little trace.

As part of an investigation into the illegal spiking of CBD vapes that are not supposed to have any psychoactive effect at all, The Associated Press sought to understand the story behind Yolo.

The trail led to a Southern California
beach town and an entrepreneur whose vaping habit prompted a career
change that took her from Hollywood parties to federal court in
Manhattan.

When Janell Thompson moved from Utah to the San Diego
area in 2010, the roommate she found online also vaped. Thompson had a
background in financial services and the two decided to turn their
shared interest into a business, founding an e-cigarette company called
Hookahzz.

There were early successes. Thompson and her partner
handed out Hookahzz products at an Emmy Awards pre-party, and their CBD
vapes were included in Oscar nominee gift bags in 2014. In a video shot
at a trade show, an industry insider described the two women as “the
divas of CBD.”

Indeed, Hookahzz was among the first companies to
sell vapes that delivered CBD, as the cannabis extract cannabidiol is
known. Now a popular ingredient in products from skin creams to gummy
bears, cannabidiol was at that time little known and illegal in some
states.

The partners started other brands that offered CBD
capsules and edibles, as well as products for pets. Part of Thompson’s
pitch was that CBD helped treat her dog’s tumors.

By autumn 2017, Thompson and her partner formed another company, Mathco Health Corporation. Within a few months, Yolo spiked with synthetic marijuana — commonly known as K2 or spice — began appearing on store shelves around Salt Lake City.

Yolo and Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic marijuana is manmade and can be
manufactured for a fraction of the price of CBD, which is typically
extracted from industrial hemp that must be farmed.

Samples tested
at Utah labs showed Yolo contained a synthetic marijuana blamed for at
least 11 deaths in Europe — and no CBD at all.

Authorities
believed that some people sought out Yolo because they wanted to get
high, while others unwittingly ingested a dangerous drug. What
authorities didn’t understand was its source.

Investigators with
Utah’s State Bureau of Investigation visited vape stores that sold Yolo,
but nobody would talk. The packaging provided no contact information.

By May 2018, the case was cold. But it was not dead.

That
summer, a former Mathco bookkeeper who was preparing to file a
workplace retaliation complaint began collecting evidence of what she
viewed as bad business practices.

During her research, Tatianna
Gustafson saw online pictures showing that Yolo was the main culprit in
the Utah poisonings, according to the complaint she filed against Mathco
with California’s Department of Industrial Relations.

Gustafson
wrote that while at Mathco she was concerned about how Yolo was
produced, that it was excluded from Mathco’s promotional material and
that the “labels had no ingredients or contact listing.”

Justin Davis, another former Mathco employee, told AP that “the profit margins were larger” for Yolo than other products.

Gustafson’s
complaint asserted that Mathco or JK Wholesale, another of the
companies that Thompson and her partner incorporated, mixed and
distributed Yolo. Financial records in the complaint show Thompson’s
initials as the main salesperson for Yolo transactions, including with a
company in Utah. The records also show Yolo was sold in at least six
other states, including to an address in South Carolina where a college
student said he vaped a cartridge that sent him into a coma.

The
former bookkeeper also tipped the Utah Poison Control Center about who
she believed was behind Yolo, according to her complaint.

Barbara
Crouch, the poison center’s executive director, recalled getting a tip
in late 2018 and passing it along to the State Bureau of Investigation.
SBI agent Christopher Elsholz talked to the tipster, who told him she
believed the company she had worked for distributed Yolo. Elsholz said
the company was in California and therefore out of his jurisdiction, so
he passed the tip to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The DEA
offered to help but took no law enforcement action, spokeswoman Mary
Brandenberger said. Spiked CBD is a low priority for an agency dealing
with bigger problems such as the opioid epidemic, which has killed tens
of thousands of people.

In the end, it wasn’t the synthetic
marijuana compound in Yolo from Utah that caught up with Thompson. It
was another kind of synthetic added to different brands.

By the
time of the Utah poisonings, vapes labeled as Black Magic and Black
Diamond had sickened more than 40 people in North Carolina, including
high school students and military service members. Investigators were
able to connect Thompson to that outbreak in part based on a guilty plea
from the distributor of the spiked vapes, who said a woman that
authorities identified as Thompson supplied the liquid that went into
them.

Prosecutors also linked her to dealers charged in New York,
where she pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to distribute
synthetic marijuana and a money laundering charge. The only brand
federal prosecutors cited was Yolo.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman
called Thompson a “drug trafficker” who used JK Wholesale to distribute
“massive quantities” of synthetic marijuana as far back as 2014. She
faces up to 40 years in prison.

Reached by phone the week before
she pleaded guilty, Thompson declined to discuss Yolo and then hung up.
In a subsequent text message, Thompson said not to call her and referred
questions to her lawyer, who did not respond to requests for comment.

While
Yolo was Thompson’s project and she was the exclusive salesperson, her
business partner and former roommate was involved in its production,
according to the workplace retaliation complaint.

Thompson’s
business partner and former roommate, Katarina Maloney, distanced
herself from Thompson and Yolo during an August interview at Mathco’s
headquarters in Carlsbad, California. Maloney has not been charged in
the federal investigation.

“To tell you the truth, that was my
business partner,” Maloney said of Yolo. She said Thompson was no longer
her partner and she didn’t want to discuss it.

In a follow-up email, Maloney asserted the Yolo in Utah “was not purchased from us,” without elaborating.

“Mathco
Health Corporation or any of its subsidiary companies do not engage in
the manufacture or sale of illegal products,” she wrote. “When products
leave our facility, they are 100% compliant with all laws.”

Maloney also said all products are lab tested. She did not respond to requests for Yolo lab results.

By Holbrook Mohr

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