Illegal vapes traced to California woman who was CBD pioneer

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — A pioneer in marketing CBD as a health product has acknowledged selling large quantities of synthetic marijuana which was secretly added to vapes, sickening dozens of people.

Janell Thompson helped popularize CBD, the cannabis extract that isn’t supposed to get users high.

CBD products from a Southern California company Thompson co-founded were in Oscar nominee gift bags in 2014. Federal prosecutors say that’s also when she started selling synthetic marijuana, known as spice or K2.

Thompson pleaded guilty last month to allegations of supplying synthetic marijuana nationwide.

Vapes spiked with the street drug poisoned more than 40 people in North Carolina, including around military bases. Prosecutors also tied Thompson to a product called Yolo!, which sickened at least 33 people in Utah.

Thompson didn’t respond to requests for comment.


Contact AP’s investigative team at


Contributing to this report were Reese Dunklin in Dallas; Krysta Fauria in Carlsbad; Justin Pritchard in Washington; Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Rhonda Shafner in New York. 

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