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Testing facility finds pesticides, illegal levels of THC in over-the-counter cannabis products

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Cliff Osborn announces the findings of his company's testing of over the counter cannabis products at a press conference in Flowood, MS on Dec. 12, 2023.
Will Stribling, MPB News

A cannabis testing company has revealed the presence of unregulated and illegal over the counter cannabis products available across Mississippi.

Will Stribling

Testing facility finds pesticides, illegal levels of THC in over-the-counter cannabis products


A loophole in a 2018 federal farm bill allows hemp-based cannabis products to be sold legally as long as they contain no more than 0.3% of Delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. The products have flooded gas stations and vape shops nationwide, all promising a "legal high."

Cliff Osbon, co-founder of Steep Hill, the first licensed medical cannabis testing lab in the state, bought a variety of these products at stores around Rankin County, tested them and found that they contained three to 40 times the legal amount of THC.

“This is a lot higher levels than we expected,” Osbon said. “They also had edibles or gummies for sale and some of those were available in strengths and quantities greater than a person with a medical marijuana card in Mississippi can go buy at a legal dispensary.”

One of the products Steep Hill tested also contained eight pesticides, some at 20 times the allowed levels for medical cannabis. Under current state law, none of these products are under testing requirements. 

A breakdown of the cannabis product tests Steep Hill conducted. 
Steep Hill

Rep. Lee Yancey, a House Republican who serves as chairman of the Drug Policy Committee and played a critical role in drafting Mississippi's medical marijuana legislation, says that he will introduce a bill during the 2024 session that will either regulate these products or ban them entirely.

“Any bill that comes forward, if we even allow these products to continue to be sold, would require them to be tested and make sure there's no pesticides or too much THC,” Yancey said. “The public deserves to know that the products that they buy are safe.”

Yancey says he has heard from school officials across the state that middle and high school students are getting these products and under the influence of them during school hours. 

“This is just a wake up call for all of us,” Yancey said. These findings confirm that there is illegal activity going on. There are people selling drugs to minors in gas stations all across our state, and we're going to do something about it.”

Steep Hill is not releasing the names of the products they tested or the names of the stores where they were purchased to avoid encouraging the public to seek them out.