Illegal pot edibles packaged in California as popular snacks

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert Thursday about illegal, potent cannabis edibles for sale that are being packaged to look like snack and candy brands that are popular with children and teens.

The edibles are being sold online and at California unlicensed shops and often contain levels of THC, the main intoxicating chemical in cannabis, that are many times higher than the legal limit or contain highly toxic synthetic cannabinoids, Bonta said.

“These aren’t Doritos, these are not Sour Patch Kids, these are not Oreos. They are unregulated and untested cannabis products sold by unlicensed manufacturers and marketed to underage Californians,” he said.

A copycat bag of Doritos, for example, has an unverified 600 milligrams of THC in a single bag, much higher than the 100 milligrams per package allowed by California law, Bonta said.

“While cannabis-infused edibles packaged to look like our favorite brands may seem harmless and fun, the dangers of consuming unregulated and untested cannabis products are high, particularly for children and teens,” said Bonta said.

Bonta said people who want to verify legal cannabis products in California should look for the universal symbol for cannabis — a triangle with a marijuana leaf and an exclamation point inside of it and CA, for California, written underneath it.

“If you see indications of copycat packaging or do not see the universal symbol, the product is illicit and may be dangerous,” he said.

He said the products also pose a risk for adults because they are untested and unregulated, could lure teens to the illegal cannabis market because of the fun packaging and appeal to young kids who could eat them not knowing what they are ingesting.

California has also experienced a rise in emergency room visits in recent years related to cannabis poisoning among young children.

In 2016, there were about 21 visits per 1 million Californians under age 5. In 2020, there were approximately 113 visits per 1 million Californians, according to the state Attorney General’s office.

Bonta encouraged people who come across copycat cannabis-infused edible products to file online complaints with the state Department of Cannabis Control.

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