COLUMBUS — Attorney General Dave Yost is warning Ohioans about illegal and dangerous cannabis edibles and hemp derivatives that are packaged to look like well-known brands of snack foods and candy.
“The levels of THC in these fakes could have some real and devastating consequences for children,” Yost said. “Parents need to be extra cautious, especially around Halloween, that these copycat products don’t wind up in treat bags.”
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.
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.
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.
Individuals and companies responsible for putting these illegal edibles within the reach of children should reconsider how they choose to make profits. Also, sellers should know they may be subject to legal action and substantial civil penalties.
Symptoms of THC overdose include respiratory distress, loss of coordination, lethargy, and loss of consciousness. If your child is sick and you suspect he or she has eaten a food containing high amounts of THC, call the Central Ohio Poison Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
Consumers who encounter look-alike cannabis edibles are encouraged to file a consumer complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by clicking here.