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February 27, 2023

Fentanyl, heroin found in CBD edibles sold at Montgomery County stores, D.A. says

Two overdoses led to an investigation into products being sold at three Tobacco Hut stores. Investigators have seized the stores' inventories

Investigations Drugs
Montgomery County CBD Fentanyl Montgomery County D.A.'s Office/Facebook

The CBD edibles above are among more than a dozen products that Montgomery County authorities say tested positive for trace amounts fentanyl, heroin and other illegal narcotics. They were sold at Tobacco Hut stores and linked to two non-fatal overdoses.

Montgomery County authorities are warning the public not to eat CBD edibles sold at three Tobacco Hut stores. The edibles were found to contain traces of fentanyl, heroin and other illegal drugs, authorities said Friday.

Two people who consumed tainted products overdosed and survived, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.

Police said the the edibles linked to the overdoses had been bought at Tobacco Hut's Blue Bell store at 1740 Dekalb Pike. Search warrants were served at that store on Thursday night, along with the Tobacco Hut locations at 738 Bethlehem Pike, in Montgomeryville, and 1080 Bethlehem Pike, in Hatfield. Products suspected of being adulterated were seized, and all three stores are temporarily shut down. 

How the drugs ended up in these products remains under investigation.

The CBD edibles in question had labels indicating they contained delta-8 THC or delta-9 THC. The THC in these products is derived from hemp plants, not marijuana plants, and they are legal due to a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill that allows the largely unregulated sale of hemp-derived THC so long as the concentration is below .3% by volume.

The labels on the edibles sold at the Tobacco Huts did not indicate the products contained any other drugs. The D.A.'s office initially listed these edibles as suspected of being tainted:

• Strictly Delta brand of “Delta 8 THC 600 MG Happy Cubes” in Blueberry, Lemonade and Juicy Pineapple flavors
• Packwoods Los Angeles “Coned” 600 MG in Milk Chocolate and Strawberry flavors
• Urb Delta 9 THC vegan gummies in Blueberry Citrus Burst flavor

In updates on Facebook Friday afternoon, the office included 10 more edibles from several other manufacturers that officials said had been found to contain trace amounts of narcotics. The products will be lab tested to determine the concentrations of drugs, which may help explain how they had gotten there.

The D.A.'s office said to protect the public from possible exposure to dangerous drugs, anyone who has these products is warned not to consume them.

"If anyone has any of these gummies, do not eat them!" Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said. "We need to get the word out that some of these packages contain deadly drugs." 

In addition to heroin and the potent and dangerous synthetic opioid, fentanyl, the D.A.'s office said some of the products seized from Tobacco Hut contained traces of cocaine, methyl fentanyl, the synthetic marijuana K2, methamphetamine and Suboxone. 

At a press briefing on Friday, Steele declined to provide specific information about when the two overdoses linked to these edibles from Tobacco Hut occurred. No criminal charges have been filed at this time.

“We don’t yet know whether other items from the stores contain deadly drugs. Testing is ongoing," Steele said. "We also don’t know if this is a widespread issue but we are working with law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels to ascertain that.”

The D.A.'s office said it will provide updates on Facebook about products that test positive for illegal drugs. 

The search warrant for the Tobacco Hut in Blue Bell referenced edibles bought there last week that are linked to at least one of the overdoses, a spokesperson for the D.A.'s office said.

The D.A.'s office said Friday that the Juicy Pineapple and Blueberry Lemonade flavors of Strictly Delta's Delta 8 THC 600 MG Happy Cubes tested positive for fentanyl. Samples of the Blue Lemonade flavor also tested positive for heroin and methyl fentanyl, police said.

Information about the drugs detected in the other products was not immediately released. 

A spokesperson for Tobacco Hut provided a statement to PhillyVoice on Sunday, two days after the D.A.'s office warned the public about edibles sold at its stores. 

"Tobacco Hut was unknowingly the recipient of inventory that contained illegal ingredients contrary to representations from the product supplier," the spokesperson said. "We have removed these brands from all Tobacco Hut locations. For each of our 22 years in business, the company has prided itself in providing only the highest quality products to its customers and has maintained a zero-tolerance policy for products that are misrepresented. We continue to work with law enforcement to ensure they have everything necessary to resolve this matter."

Attempts on Friday to reach the companies that produce the tainted edibles were unsuccessful.

An Instagram account exists for Strictly Delta that describes the business as "a federally licensed company ... committed to producing the finest quality hemp derived products." The last post to the business' account was in July and a link to the company's website in its bio does not work.

A man answered the Staten Island phone number found online for Strictly Delta. He would not identify himself, and said he used to run a kiosk that distributed Strictly Delta products at the Staten Island Mall. The kiosk closed two years ago, he said, and he provided another phone number for Strictly Delta that had a full voicemail.

Urb, based in Kenosha, Wisconsin, carries a range of hemp-derived products such as edibles, disposable vapes and cartridges.

"We were not involved in the production or sale of these products," an Urb spokesperson said in an email, and directed questions to another company, Savage Enterprises, as the maker of the Extrax line of vegan, delta-9 THC products that investigators have linked to the Tobacco Hut investigation.

Savage Enterprises describes itself as an industry leader in cannabinoid-infused products and vaping liquids. Its flagship brand is Delta Extrax. A voice message left with Savage Enterprises on Friday was not immediately returned.

Packwoods Los Angeles carries a variety of hemp-derived products. The company did not respond to an email on Friday about the delta 9 THC products named by the D.A.'s office. 

Anyone who purchased the edibles in question in Montgomery County, and still has them in their possession, can call the Montgomery County Detective Bureau at (610) 278-3368. Local police departments can also be contacted to submit these products for testing.

Because they are derived from hemp, and not marijuana, the delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC products being investigated can be legally sold in Pennsylvania, the D.A.'s office said, but they are the same psychoactive compounds.

Delta-9 THC is the main ingredient associated with marijuana's high. The marijuana-derived version can only legally be sold at dispensaries in states that have medical and recreational marijuana programs.

Delta-8 THC is less potent than delta-9 THC. It is usually manufactured at concentrated levels from hemp-derived CBD, or cannabidiol. Unlike CBD, which is not psychoactive and is widely used as an herbal remedy, delta-8 THC causes some intoxicating effects, according to the FDA

Note: This story was updated on Feb. 27 to include a statement provided by Tobacco Hut.