‘Kids were getting sick’: Authorities say business intentionally altered products to increase THC content

Authorities executed search warrants at multiple LA Harvest Company locations, which advertise selling varieties of help and Delta 8 products.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 6:06 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Businesses in Hancock County and St. Tammany Parish were raided Wednesday for selling illegal marijuana products.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Bay St. Louis Police Department, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control arrested Karen McClain and Darren Perksins.

Authorities executed search warrants at multiple LA Harvest Company locations, which advertised selling varieties of help and Delta 8 products.

Hancock County authorities said they received multiple complaints regarding items being sold from these stores.

“Kids were getting sick. We decided to act on it,” said Sheriff Ricky Adam.

Narcotics agents determined that employees were selling marijuana flower and other items with concentrations of THC above the legal limit.

Agents seized more than 75 pounds of marijuana flower and 26 packages of THC-infused edible products. Agents also located “extensive paraphernalia” that confirmed to authorities that the business was created infused products of their own using an internal lab-like setup.

“It appears that they may have knowingly changed some labeling and stuff and lab results on things,” Adam said.

McClain, the owner/operator of the business, and employee Perksisns are held on charges of the sale/distribution of a controlled substance. McClain is also facing a charge of trafficking controlled substances. Authorities said a third arrest warrant is pending.

“The documents that we seized as well are probably going to lead to some more things. So, it was really a thorough investigation,” Adam said.

Authorities wanted the public to know that some products available for purchase at LA Harvest Company contained concentrations of THC that are illegal, and their possession in Mississippi is still illegal.

In addition to the marijuana flower being mixed in higher concentrations, the business had also altered the packing of several commercially packaged products to reflect that the THC concentration of those products was below the legal concentration allowed in Mississippi.

“It was either infused with THC or THC marijuana alone. It was intentional misrepresentation leading people to think all their products were hemp products. When I’m fact they weren’t,” Casey Favre with the sheriff’s office told WLOX.

This poses a problem for consumers who may mistakenly believe the product is legal when in fact it is not.

“LA Harvest has not qualified to be a dispensary of medical marijuana in the state, and the company has conducted their illicit business long before the medical marijuana law went into effect,” Adam said “They have held no regard for the state’s medical marijuana law, often flaunting the fact that they did not require medical cards. Essentially, they are no different than street-level dope dealers, other than they have a fancy storefront.

“These products are not always safe and they still pose a threat to the public’s safety, particularly when altered, misidentified and sold as legal hemp or Delta 8 products. We have received complaints from parents indicating their children have become ill after consuming these products.”

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office has been working alongside the Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control throughout the transition of medical marijuana legalization.

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