Multiple states have issued warnings leading up to Halloween for parents to check their children’s treats and to be on the watch for cannabis-laced edibles with deceptive packaging that mimic well-known snack and candy brands, amid an increase in calls to poison control centers reporting children consuming the drugs.
Attorneys general in New York, Connecticut, Arkansas and Ohio are asking parents to look out for words that indicate their kids’ treats are laced with marijuana, including a small “THC” sign in the bottom left corner or incorrect names on packaging like Stoney Patch , or Stoneo — knockoffs for Sour Patch Kids candy and Oreos cookies, respectively.
The attorneys general warn the products can be dangerous due to their high concentrations of cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with some packages containing between 600 to 1,000 mg of THC, which is more than 100 times the legal serving for adults in some states where marijuana Edibles are legal, and could lead to pose a danger to children if they consume it.
This month, a South Carolina teacher was charged with possession of a dangerous drug after one of her students took a cannabis-laced gummy candy from the classroom’s prize box, and police in a Pennsylvania town confiscated look-alike marijuana products of Sour Patch Kids candies , Cheetos and Sweetarts at a traffic stop last month.
2,622. That’s the number of calls the American Association of Poison Control Centers received in the first half of 2021 related to children ingesting cannabis products, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.
A research brief from the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that reports from the National Poison Data System of children ingesting edible cannabis products began to rise in 2017, and between 2017 and 2019, there were 4,172 reports related to children being exposed to edible cannabis products. Children between the age of 3 and 5 made up the largest percent of exposures. States like New York have noted an uptick in cases of children eating cannabis-laced candies and treats, with more than 127 reports last year, just in New York City’s metropolitan area, up from 32 in 2019. New Jersey’s Poison Control Center reported more than 85 children had to receive medical treatment for eating products with THC last year, which was more than double the number in 2019.
In May, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company — which is under Mars Inc. which owns candy brands M&M’s and Twix — filed lawsuits against five cannabis companies for selling edibles that mimic the packaging for some of its candies like Starbursts, Skittles and Life Savers, New York Times reported. The company argued that due to the similar packaging, kids could mistakenly eat the marijuana products while under the impression it was one of its candies. The Hershey Company and Ferrara Candy have also filed lawsuits in the past against marijuana companies that have replicated the packaging of some of their candies.