Colorado sues business that allegedly marketed marijuana as hemp

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(This story was updated June 20 at 2 p.m. ET to include comments from the owner of CBDDY.)

Colorado’s attorney general is suing Greeley-based cannabis product retailer Gee Distributors, which does business as CBDDY, as well as owner Christopher Landon Eoff for allegedly selling marijuana marketed as industrial hemp.

According to an announcement from Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office, the lawsuit filed in Weld County District Court marks the first action against an industrial hemp operator in the state under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.

The lawsuit alleges that some of the products sold by CBDDY contained THC levels 35 times higher than what is allowed in the state’s regulated marijuana market.

“The defendant recklessly sold products that were, in some cases, more potent even than what is sold in state-licensed dispensaries with little regard for requirements like lab testing and age verification,” Weiser said in a news release.

Delta-8 vs. delta-9 THC

In an email to MJBizDaily, CBDDY founder and CEO Eoff rejected the state’s assertions and called the potency claims misleading.

“The lab used by the State of Colorado lacks the capability to differentiate between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC on the chromatogram,” he said.

“Thus, the reported Delta-9 THC levels are inaccurately inflated.”

Intoxicating hemp debate

CBDDY’s e-commerce site offers THCA flower, concentrates and vapes as well as edibles containing delta-9 THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in regulated marijuana that appears in trace amounts in hemp.

State governments have been cracking down on intoxicating hemp-based cannabinoids in recent years.

Industrial hemp production was legalized nationwide by the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, although lawmakers did not expect the action would give rise to a bustling market for intoxicating hemp-based cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC and THCA.

Lab testing certificates

The new release from Weiser’s office said, “Adding to the company’s deceptive practices, investigators found CBDDY forged or altered certificates of analysis to misrepresent its products as legal.

Colorado regulators require industrial hemp companies to have their products tested at one of 12 state-certified testing labs, although hemp operators are not required to provide certificates of analysis to consumers, according to Weiser’s office.

But Eoff rejected these claims, too, telling MJBizDaily, “We ensure all products meet the necessary legal requirements and are tested by certified laboratories to confirm their compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, which defines industrial hemp as containing no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis.

“All Certificates of Analysis (COAs) are transparently provided to customers through our website and product packaging.

Cannabis retail age verification

Eoff also denied the state’s claim that his company failed to verify the age of customers, telling MJBizDaily, “We take age verification seriously and have implemented robust systems to ensure that our products are not sold to minors.

“Our online sales processes include stringent age checks to comply with all regulatory requirements.”

In addition to asking that CBDDY stop marketing its products as hemp, the state’s lawsuit is asking for civil penalties and restitution.

Eoff’s statement to MJBizDaily reads, in part, “Our marketing strategies are designed to inform consumers accurately and transparently about the nature and benefits of our products.

“Any health claims made are substantiated by scientific research and are not intended to mislead or misinform the public.”