Dream Steam and Verde Dispensary, both subsidiaries of Harvest, Inc., a Tempe, Ariz.-based cultivator, producer and distributor of medical cannabis products, have filed a defamation lawsuit against O.pen Vape, a Denver-based manufacturer and distributor of cannabis vaporizer pens and pen cartridges.
The complaint, filed in Superior Court of Arizona, addresses misleading and deceptive statements that were disseminated through an ongoing national marketing campaign; the creation of fake news organizations to help covertly spread these false statements; intentional interference with contract and business relationships; false light invasion of privacy; and unfair competition carried out by O.pen Vape, its national entities, its distribution network in individual states (including Arizona), and its Arizona associates.
“The medical cannabis industry needs to collectively shoulder the responsibility of providing accurate and trustworthy information to the millions of people who rely on cannabis as a preferred and prescribed medical treatment option,” said Steve White, CEO of Harvest, Inc. “Anything less is grossly unethical, provides a disservice, and potentially harms innocent patients doing their best to navigate an already-complex and somewhat-misunderstood field.”
The misleading facts revolve around Dream Steam’s use of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) as a thinning agent for its cannabis oil cartridges that are designed for medical vaporizer pens. MCT is a fatty acid derived from coconut or palm oil that is often ingested as food or as a nutritional supplement. Despite MCT being all-natural and clinically-proven to be one of the safest thinning agents available for cannabis oil vaporizing, a sustained and blatant false advertising campaign was launched to disparage MCT in order to generate positive attention for O.pen’s own cannabis oil cartridge products, which contain polyethylene glycol 400 [PEG 400], a petroleum additive that has shown to produce elevated levels of formaldehyde when heated to 230 degrees Celsius, the temperature at which the plant’s chemical compounds boil.
A newly released peer-reviewed study by the Medical Marijuana Research Institute, which was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, tested four thinning agents (including PEG 400 and MCT) for acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde. Results of this study demonstrated that MCT was one of the safer thinning agents for cannabis oil, especially as compared to PEG 400. The Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients affirms that MCT is “generally regarded as essentially nontoxic and nonirritant material.”
Despite these proven results, false statements about the danger of the natural thinning agent has been purported by O.pen and its associates as far back as 2015. As well, flyers with flagrant false statements about coconut oil, while proclaiming safety of PEG 400, were released. The campaign also asserted false statements and claims on defendant-owned-and-managed news outlets. The cumulative effort of the campaign has fed deceptive statements into the medical cannabis information pipeline, which is relied upon by thousands of patients looking for accurate and factual information about medical marijuana as they seek relief from painful conditions and debilitating diseases.
Dream Steam takes its commitment to providing safe cannabis products to patients very seriously. In addition to containing the MCT thinning agent, Dream Steam vapor cartridges also contain cannabis oil that is carbon dioxide-extracted and refined using a proprietary process that delivers a pure, all-natural product. This process was recently vetted by Americans for Safe Access, a national organization dedicated to medical cannabis safety, who awarded Harvest with the Patient Focused Certification for cannabis product manufacturing, making Harvest one of only a handful of organizations in the country to earn this certification.