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Mass. marijuana agency warns of possible toxin in ‘1906′ edibles

Cannabis officials say herbal ingredient is linked to liver injury

Massachusetts regulators are warning that pills made by cannabis company 1906 contain an herb linked to liver damage. The so-called "Midnight Drops" are advertised on the firm's website, as seen here. (Screenshot from 1906 website)Screenshot from 1906 website

Massachusetts cannabis officials are warning consumers and medical marijuana patients that a line of “1906″-branded edibles contain a potentially toxic herbal extract.

In an advisory bulletin released Friday afternoon, the state Cannabis Control Commission said the company’s “Midnight Drops” contain a type of Corydalis plant linked to an elevated risk of liver injury. The plant’s tuber, commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, contains the potentially toxic alkaloid tetrahydropalmatine, according to officials.

The marijuana agency stopped short of ordering a mandatory recall of the product, but said it had launched an investigation into the ingredient. The bulletin also noted that Colorado regulators last month issued a warning about liver injuries resulting from the same product, and added that a Massachusetts healthcare provider recently notified the commission about a similar local case apparently caused by the drops.

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“The health and safety of patients and consumers is of utmost importance to the commission, which is why we immediately opened an investigation into products that contain corydalis and are issuing this precautionary bulletin to enable the public to make informed decisions about what they put in their bodies,” Shawn Collins, the executive director of the commission, said in a statement. “As the commission’s regulations require all [licensed marijuana companies] to include a product label listing their ingredients, patients and consumers may wish to check any purchases for corydalis and consult with a healthcare provider they trust for additional guidance.”

1906 is based in Colorado, but its products for Massachusetts consumers are manufactured by Bask Inc. at a facility in Freetown. (Licensed marijuana operators can’t move products across state lines, due to the federal prohibition on the drug.)

Peter Barsoom, the company’s chief executive, said in an e-mail to the Globe that 1906 is “committed to the safety and education of consumers and patients” and stressed the advisory was not a recall notice.

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The company later said through a spokesman that it had reformulated the product with a different herb, Stefania, beginning in March. The spokesman said 1906 made the change because it received around two dozen reports of consumers in different states becoming ill after consuming Midnight Drops, but he insisted that the rate of negative reactions was exceedingly low compared to the overall quantity sold.

“Our primary focus remains the well-being of our customers, and our efforts here and with the CCC demonstrate this,” the spokesman said.

It was not immediately clear if any retailers in Massachusetts are still selling the previous formulation of Midnight Drops that includes Corydalis. Cannabis officials urged consumers to check the ingredients of marijuana products they may have purchased and to report any adverse reactions to the agency.

The “Midnight” pills also contain small amounts of THC, the well-known compound primarily responsible for marijuana’s high, and CBD, a less-impairing cannabinoid widely marketed as a relaxant and treatment for a variety of health ailments. The company markets the so-called drops as a sleep aid, one offering in a lineup of pills with names such as “Go,” “Chill,” and “Bliss” that purport to bring about different states of mind.


Dan Adams can be reached at daniel.adams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Adams86.