A Minnesota vaping company called a lawsuit filed by the Board of Pharmacy over its sale of edible THC products "overzealous," and slammed the department for citing a person's death in its press conference that has no correlation to products it sells.
During a press conference announcing a lawsuit against Northland Vapor and Wonky Confections on Monday, the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy said that one of the 46 complaints it had received regarding its THC products mentioned the death of a 23-year-old West Virginia man who had bought some of the gummies.
However, Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Jill Phillips acknowledged that the FDA "has not determined that the products caused the death." In response, Northland Vapor issued a statement to Bring Me The News criticizing the department for mentioning the death in the context of the lawsuit.
The company, which along with Wonky Confection is owned by Brett Erpelding, said the allusion that the company's products are involved in the man's death are "absurd," and that it's like saying "someone who consumed a single beer on the date of his death died because he drank the beer."
State regulators filed the civil complaint against Erpelding's companies, stating they had sold edible cannabinoid products that contained as much as 100 milligrams of THC per serving, in packages containing a total of 2,500 milligrams of THC.
Minnesota law limits THC-based products to five milligrams per serving or 50 milligrams per package. Products also can't contain "cartoon-like characteristics of a real or fictional person, animal or fruit that appeals to children."
Northland Vapor — operating out of Moorhead and Bemidji — sells products including "Death by Gummy Bears" and "Wonky Weeds" that has THC levels higher than state standards permit.
In the lawsuit filed by the Board of Pharmacy, the company reportedly did acknowledge some of its products were stronger than state standards, but argued that all of the products were sold out of state.
A full statement reads:
"Northland Vapor Company is a small, family-owned business that employs more than 60 people. It has been a proud member of the communities in which it operates for nearly a decade and takes great pride in its commitment to producing safe, consistent, high-quality products in a clean, professional environment.
"Northland attempted to work with the State to ensure existing operations and otherwise legal products could comply with the newly adopted state law. The State worked with other businesses in the industry, but someone decided Northland should be made an example. Why the Board of Pharmacy elected to expend its time and resources on a small, family-owned business in outstate Minnesota rather than focus on the real problems in its own backyard is hard to say.
"The State's attempts to smear Northland's reputation and aggressive tactics go beyond belief. The State has inferred — but was careful not to say — that consumption of a Northland gummy product resulted in a THC overdose death. The State was careful not to say what it inferred because the claim is unsubstantiated. Suggesting that an adult male who consumed a gummy product on the date of his death was killed by the gummy is as absurd as suggesting someone who consumed a single beer on the date of his death because he drank the beer. Simply put, there is no evidence of any harm arising from the proper use of Northland products. The State's efforts to suggest otherwise are misleading and shameful.
"Northland is a small business committed to making a quality product and now must fight for its life against overzealous regulators in St. Paul looking to make a splash with their newly adopted law."
The board said during a news conference Monday that it received 46 complaints regarding products from the two Northland Vapor locations and Wonky Confections within the past four months. The companies are also accused of failing to provide proof of testing for prohibited substances on the aforementioned products, such as "pesticides, heavy metals and solvents."
Phillips provided the following statement to Bring Me The News:
"Our full statement was made available in the complaint summons and the press conference. There is nothing additional at this time."