Jason Crawforth was headed home to Idaho last month when he became dizzy and disoriented while driving a motor home in northern Nevada.
“I remember a car, a red card, driving towards me on the highway,” Crawford said during a phone interview about the Sept. 4 incident. “And I vaguely remember being confused about which lane I was supposed to be at. And the car went by me, and I just remember thinking, I just need to do that 1,000 more times in a row and not hit anyone.”
Crawforth, 51, pulled over and had a friend drive the rest of the way to Boise. Once there, he went to St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center and underwent a series of tests.
“And they came back and said I had THC in my system,” Crawforth said. “And I just said that’s impossible. I’ve never used any marijuana products.”
Before he started off for Idaho, Crawforth took a dose of CBD oil for lower back pain. He didn’t find out until later that an Oregon manufacturer mixed up two lines of products at its Portland factory. The bottle Crawforth drew from contained a high concentration of THC, the marijuana compound that makes users high.
Oregon says Curaleaf plant mislabeled drops
Crawforth has filed suit against Curaleaf, one of the nation’s largest marijuana companies, based in Wakefield, Massachusetts, with operations in 23 states. Oregon regulators say confusion in the plant caused hundreds of bottles to be mislabeled.
The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission said that 500 bottles of 1,000-milligram Select-brand Broad Spectrum CBD wellness drops mistakenly contained large amounts of THC. At least a dozen people were exposed to the tainted drops, the OLCC said.
About 300 of the bottles, filled on May 14, were later sold. A recall was issued on the rest, prompted after Crawforth contacted the OLCC, which collected the bottles and had them tested.
“A team member confused two containers during the filling and packaging process, one containing CBD and one containing THC,” Curaleaf spokesperson Jordon Rahmil said by email from Portland. “This resulted in a single batch of CDB tincture being labeled as THC Drops and vice versa. The amount of THC was within the regulatory limit for a normal batch for our THC drops, but we understand that some customers may have consumed multiple doses.”
A second recall affected 1,000-milligram bottles of unflavored Select Tincture 30mL THC Drops. Those 630 bottles contained CBD oil and little to no THC, Rahmil said.
Curaleaf has implemented new controls, including the use of color coding and improved labeling for buckets, lids and storage and enhanced camera visibility in product control areas. The company is also conducting additional training with its production team and will add a new quality technician at its Oregon plant, Rahmil said.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Portland by attorney Michael Fuller, accuses Curaleaf of selling Crawforth wrongly labeled CBD drops that contained THC instead of cannabidiol, (CBD) which does not cause intoxication.
“Due to defendant’s negligence, plaintiff required immediate medical treatment in the emergency room, and experienced harm including the inability to drive a motor vehicle, unwanted anxiety, acute psychosis, discomfort, distress, and interference with life activities,” Fuller wrote in the suit.
Crawforth is seeking an amount to be determined at trial, along with punitive damages of up to 1% of Curaleaf’s net worth.
Rahmil declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Five other lawsuits have been filed against Curaleaf by Fuller representing Oregonians who used the mislabeled drops. One was a 79-year-old man who underwent surgery after doctors were unable to determine what was causing his symptoms, Fuller said. Another was a woman in her 60s who was exhibiting stroke-like symptoms, he said.
“It’s been truly horrible for Mr. Crawforth and a lot of other people,” Fuller said by phone.
Last year, Curaleaf bought Portland-based Select in an all-stock deal valued at $400 million. The company last year paid a $110,000 “dishonest conduct” penalty for producing vapes that contained additives when Select claimed they were all-marijuana. Select’s forrmer owners agreed in August to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit in that case, also filed by Fuller.
Boise man felt self ‘slipping from reality’
Crawforth, a serial entrepreneur known in Boise in technology and restaurant circles, bought three bottles of Select CBD oil at a store in Gearhart, on the north Oregon Coast on Aug. 17. He bought three bottles, two for him and one for his mother, who he was visiting in nearby Seaside and who used Select drops.
Crawforth finished a previously purchased bottle of CBD in early September and on Sept. 3, while camping in northern Nevada, opened a bottle bought in Gearhart.
“I quickly felt myself slipping from reality,” Crawforth said. “I thought I was having a stroke or a seizure. I was conscious but definitely not aware.”
His friends, who included a nurse and an EMT, checked his heart rate with a monitor.
“It was about 150 beats a minute for almost three or four hours,” Crawforth said. “My arms and legs were shaking, and I couldn’t tell if I was talking or people were talking to me.”
Unaware the CBD oil was actually THC, Crawforth took another dose the next morning before heading out. The last thing he remembered was his friend telling him to pull over and let her drive.
Ingestion of 5 to 20 milligrams of THC can cause impairment of attention, memory, executive functioning and short-term memory, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Higher doses can cause panic, anxiety, involuntary twitching, delirium and respiratory depression.
Over the two days, Crawforth said he ingested 60 milligrams of THC. He said he should never have been driving.
“As time went on, I came to realize I could have killed myself or other people,” he said. “The last line in my life would have been I had incredibly high levels of THC in my autopsy report, and it just would have been like this guy died because he overdosed and was not aware.”
For three weeks, Crawforth said he suffered from night terrors, episodes of intense fear, screaming and flailing while asleep. He said he woke up from nightmares seeing himself being killed and killing other people.
“I still have some residual brain fog, and my energy seems to be down,” Crawforth said. “And for the first four weeks, I had problems concentrating. Once you start having something for a long period of time, it becomes the new normal.”