The top legal officers in several states have issued warnings ahead of Halloween about cannabis products that are deceptively designed to look like normal candy and snacks.
The attorneys general in Connecticut, Illinois, New York, and Ohio all released statements Tuesday about illegal cannabis products that are sold in lookalike packaging.
The misleading products often contain a high concentration of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. If ingested by children, the attorneys general say the THC can lead to accidental overdoses.
Officials say the most common overdose incidents among children involve the ingestion of edible cannabis foods and that these types of incidents are on the rise.
“In 2020, more than 70% of calls related to marijuana edibles to the Poison Control Center involved children under the age of 5,” said the New York Attorney General’s Office. “In the first half of 2021 alone, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported that poison control hotlines have received an estimated 2,622 calls for services related to young children ingesting illegal cannabis products.”
Symptoms of THC overdose include respiratory distress, loss of coordination, lethargy, and loss of consciousness.
The attorneys general also warned about the serving sizes of the edible cannabis products.
"In states that have legalized the sale of marijuana, edible cannabis products are subject to strict safety controls," wrote the Illinois Attorney General's Office. "For example, a single adult serving size of an edible cannabis product in Illinois may contain up to 10 milligrams of THC, and a package of edible products may contain no more than 100 milligrams of THC. However, a single bag of look-alike Cheetos contains 600 milligrams of THC. If a child were to eat the entire bag, they would be consuming 60 times the maximum legal adult serving."
Officials are recommending that adults take strong precautions to ensure that children cannot access any products containing cannabis.
“The levels of THC in these fakes could have some real and devastating consequences for children,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “Parents need to be extra cautious, especially around Halloween, that these copycat products don’t wind up in treat bags.”
Parents and guardians are also asked to speak with their children, including young adults, to provide age-appropriate guidance about the dangers that look-alike products pose.
If you suspect your child has eaten food containing high amounts of THC, call your local poison control hotline.