Cannabis Company Raided Over Illegal Vape Cartridge Allegations

By Paul Gaita 10/28/19

Kushy Punch was served with a search warrant after a police investigation turned up unauthorized marijuana products at a dispensary.

vape cartridge
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California state and law enforcement officials raided a factory owned by a manufacturer of cannabis products after allegations surfaced that the company was making illegal vape products.

Kushy Punch, which makes edibles, tinctures and vape cartridges, was served with a search warrant at one of its two Southern California-based manufacturing facilities after a police investigation turned up unauthorized marijuana products at a dispensary.

Expired Batteries

The products were linked back to Kushy, where the same disposable vape cartridges, which contained expired batteries, were found during the search; legal counsel for the company said that the items were intended to be destroyed, and intends to work closely with state officials to product customers.

The news of the search warrant at Kushy raised concerns over the wave of health problems linked to vaping marijuana products that have sickened more than 1,500 individuals across the United States and claimed the lives of at least 30 people.

As both the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration have noted, no single substance or product has been shown to be the direct cause for the illnesses, but investigations have found that some unlicensed sources have produced "bootleg" vaping cartridges that have contained pesticides, heavy metals and vitamin E acetate, all of which can cause serious respiratory problems.

Cannabis Safety Team Conducts Investigation, Finds "Discrepancies"

In the case of Kushy, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) conducted an investigation into reports that the company was manufacturing illegal vape cartridges and edibles and distributing them to dispensaries. The bureau's Cannabis Safety Team then conducted an inspection of a dispensary in Hollister, where Kushy products had been on sale until management pulled them over concerns about the investigation.

Police from Hollister and the safety team reviewed testing paperwork provided by Kushy and found what were described on San Benito as "discrepancies" between the test results and Kushy's packaging. This sent the BCC and the Department of Consumer Affairs' Cannabis Enforcement Unit to Kushy's factory in Canoga Park, California, where a search warrant led to the seizure of approximately $21 million in illegal cannabis products, including 7,200 vape cartridges.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, the state regards Kushy as an illegal business, a status which is disputed by the company, which maintains that it has a license with the California Department of Public Health, and passed all BCC inspections as of October 3.

Eric Shevin, legal counsel for Kushy Punch, told Marijuana Business Daily in a statement that the cartridges confiscated by the BCC were "located in a single box labeled for destruction following their discovery among packaging and marketing materials at a separate storage facility. These cartridges were unusable due to their age, as their batteries had died after being stored for more than two years."

Shevin added that the company "intends to cooperate and work closely with the BCC in its efforts to protect consumers and license holders." A spokesperson for the BBC declined to comment on the issue beyond noting that the investigation was ongoing.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.