California Officials Warn Consumers About Drinking Popular Beverage

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: May 31, 2024

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a warning against consuming Mary Jones drinks.

These beverages, made by Jones Soda Company, contain a prohibited form of THC derived from hemp, posing a risk to consumers. The CDPH advises against purchasing or drinking these sodas.

Unsafe Ingredients Found

The Mary Jones sodas are found to contain THC isolate from hemp, which is illegal in California.

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This ingredient is intoxicating and can pose health risks, particularly to young people. CDPH Director Tomás J. Aragón emphasized the state’s commitment to public safety.


Flavored Sodas Targeting Youth

“California simply will not tolerate the distribution and sale of unsafe, mislabeled, and illegal products that put the health of the public at risk,” Aragón said in the Thursday advisory.

Six clear bottles of soda, all different colors, on a surface in a line.

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The sodas come in appealing flavors like green apple, root beer, berry lemonade, and orange and cream. Officials are concerned that these flavors may attract minors, leading to accidental consumption and potential health issues.

Improper Labeling Concerns

Apart from containing prohibited THC, the Mary Jones drinks are also improperly labeled. The CDPH has not detailed how the labels are inaccurate, but this mislabeling adds to the risks.

Photograph of a refrigerator in a retail store stocked with soda

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Proper labeling is crucial for consumer safety, especially with products containing intoxicating substances.

Legal Status of THC Drinks

In California, THC drinks are legal but must be sold through licensed dispensaries. The Mary Jones sodas, however, are being sold outside these regulated outlets, violating state laws.

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This illegal distribution increases the likelihood of unsafe products reaching consumers.

Retailers Continue to Sell

Despite the CDPH’s warning, Mary Jones drinks are still available at various stores like Total Wine & More.

Total Wine at Celebration Center.

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The continued sale of these products indicates challenges in regulatory enforcement and highlights the need for better compliance measures.


Company's Response Pending

Jones Soda Company, based in Seattle, has not issued a voluntary recall or responded to the CDPH’s violation notice (at the time of writing).

Jones Soda Co. 1000 1st Avenue South, Seattle, WA

Source: Dennis Bratland/Wikimedia Commons

The company’s lack of action raises concerns about its commitment to consumer safety in relation to regulatory compliance.


Potential Penalties

The CDPH has warned that both the manufacturer and retailers could face criminal or civil penalties if they continue selling the prohibited drinks.

A black and silver gavel lying against a black block.

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These penalties underscore the seriousness of distributing unsafe products and the state’s efforts to protect public health.


Impact on Jones Soda’s Revenue

The launch of the Mary Jones line significantly boosted Jones Soda’s revenue.

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However, the current controversy may affect their business, particularly if they face penalties or an eventual forced recall. The company’s future actions will be crucial in managing this crisis.


Public Health Advisory

The CDPH advises anyone feeling sick after consuming a Mary Jones soda to contact their doctor.

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Unsplash user National Cancer Institute

They also encourage the public to report sightings of these drinks to the CDPH Complaint Hotline at 800-495-3232 or via their website, ensuring community safety.


Consumer Vigilance

This incident highlights the importance of consumer vigilance. Buyers should ensure they purchase THC-infused products only from licensed dispensaries, where safety and regulatory compliance are prioritized.

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Staying informed can prevent health risks associated with unregulated products.


Future of Hemp-Derived Products

The situation with Mary Jones sodas sheds light on the complex regulations surrounding hemp-derived products.

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As the market for these products grows, clear and enforceable regulations will be essential to ensure consumer safety and industry compliance, benefiting both manufacturers and the public.