CARLSBAD, Calif. — Some of the people rushing to emergency rooms thought the CBD vape they inhaled would help like a gentle medicine. Others puffed it for fun.
What the vapors delivered instead was a jolt of synthetic marijuana, and with it an intense high of hallucinations and even seizures.
More than 50 people around Salt Lake City had been poisoned by the time the outbreak ended early last year, most by a vape called Yolo! – the acronym for “you only live once.”
In recent months, hundreds of vape users have developed mysterious lung illnesses, and more than 30 have died. Yolo was different. Users knew immediately something was wrong.
Who was responsible for Yolo? Public health officials and criminal investigators couldn’t figure that out. Just as it seemed to appear from nowhere, Yolo faded away with little trace.
As part of an investigation into the illegal spiking of CBD vapes that are not supposed to have any psychoactive effect at all, The Associated Press sought to understand the story behind Yolo.
The trail led to a Southern California beach town and an entrepreneur whose vaping habit prompted a career change that took her from Hollywood parties to federal court in Manhattan.
When Janell Thompson moved from Utah to the San Diego area in 2010, the roommate she found online also vaped. Thompson had a background in financial services and the two decided to turn their shared interest into a business, founding an e-cigarette company called Hookahzz.
Published: October 21, 2019