Deceptive cannabis products disguised as snacks; NY AG issues warning to parents

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NEW YORK (WETM) – New York parents should be on alert for products that are deceptively designed to look like standard snack foods and candy, but actually contain high levels of cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), New York Attorney General Letitia James warned on Tuesday.

The products, which the attorney general’s office said are illegal and unregulated in New York, can be extremely dangerous and are mostly sold online. If ingested, the products could be fatal for children, according to the Office of the Attorney General.

Packaging for the products copies popular snack food brands such as Oreos, Cheetos, Sour Patch Kids, and Doritos.

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“These unregulated and deceptive cannabis products will only confuse and harm New Yorkers, which is why they have no place in our state,” James said in a statement. “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.”

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the most common overdose incidents among children involve ingestion of edible cannabis foods, as such incidents of overdoses 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. In the first half of 2021, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported poison control hotlines received an estimated 2,622 calls for services related to young children ingesting illegal cannabis products.

Examples of products deceptively designed to look like standard snacks and candy.

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A standard bag of lookalike Cheetos brand product contains 600 milligrams
of THC — 120 times the maximum legal adult serving in most states.

Although New York legalized adult-use cannabis earlier this year, cannabis products for non-medical use are not yet being sold legally in the state.

In other states where non-medical cannabis products are permitted for sale, a single adult serving size of an edible cannabis product contains 5 milligrams of THC. Comparatively, a standard bag of lookalike Cheetos brand product contains 600 milligrams of THC.

If a child were to consume the entire bag, the child would be eating 120 times the maximum legal adult serving in those states.

Symptoms of THC overdose include respiratory distress, loss of coordination, lethargy, and loss of consciousness. New Yorkers who suspect that their child has become sick from consuming food containing high amounts of THC are encouraged to call the New York Regional Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222. 

New Yorkers who are aware of or have encountered these type of products are encouraged to contact the OAG by submitting a complaint form online or by calling (800) 771-7755.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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