COLUMBUS, Ohio (NEXSTAR) – With Halloween approaching, state attorneys general across the country are warning parents to make sure cannabis candies don’t wind up in the hands of kids. The press releases that went out Tuesday were similar and appear to be part of a coordinated effort to warn of unregulated, illegal marijuana snacks and candies made to look like the sober, genuine brand.
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“The levels of THC in these fakes could have some real and devastating consequences for children,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in one of the releases. “Parents need to be extra cautious, especially around Halloween, that these copycat products don’t wind up in treat bags.”
Ohio’s two poison control centers reported a significant increase in children ingesting such products in 2020:
- Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Drug and Poison Information Center reported 79 cases of ingestion in 2020, up from 38 in 2019 – a 108% increase.
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital Central Ohio Poison Center also recorded 79 consults in 2020, but its calls were up from 16 in 2019 – a 394% increase.
“None of the cannabis products pictured are legally sold in Ohio. The sale of marijuana for certain medical reasons is legal for adults in the state. In those approved uses, a single serving of an edible cannabis product contains 10 mg of THC and a multiple-serving package must contain less than 100 mg of total THC,” a release from Yost’s office states. “Some of the copycat bags pictured contain 600-1,000 mg of THC. If a child were to eat an entire bag, he or she would be consuming 60-100 times the maximum legal adult serving.”
In New York, Attorney General Letitia James today issued a similar warning about marijuana edibles on Tuesday.
Packaging for the illegal products copy popular snack food brands such as Oreos, Cheetos, Sour Patch Kids, and Doritos.
“These unregulated and deceptive cannabis products will only confuse and harm New Yorkers, which is why they have no place in our state,” said Attorney General James. “It is essential that we limit their access to protect our communities and, more specifically, our children. In light of an increase in accidental overdoses among children nationwide, it is more vital than ever that we do everything we can to curb this crisis and prevent any further harm, or even worse, death. My office is committed to preventing the sale of these products and protecting the wellbeing of all New Yorkers. I urge everyone to remain vigilant against these products and to report these harmful items to my office immediately.”
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge warned that the knock-off pot candies could have 120 times the potency of a legal adult edible when eaten by a child.
“If anyone sells these products to Arkansans I will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Rutledge said. “If you see these look-alike products for sale, report them to my office immediately.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the most common overdoses among children nationwide involve ingestion of edible cannabis foods and the overdoses continue to rise. In the first half of 2021 alone, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported hotlines received 2,622 calls for services related to young children ingesting cannabis products.