LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning the public about the dangers of cannabis edibles and hemp derivatives in packaging designed to look like well-known snack foods and candy. These products are unregulated, illegal, and may be extremely dangerous. As Halloween approaches, parents should be aware that these look-alike products are being offered for sale online.
“The unregulated look-alike products are dangerous and marketed to kids and young adults and when consumed by a child can have 120 times the potency of the maximum legal adult serving,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If anyone sells these products to Arkansans I will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law. If you see these look-alike products for sale, report them to my office immediately.”
These products may contain high concentrations of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and if eaten by children, can lead to an accidental overdose. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the most common overdose incidents among children involve ingestion of edible cannabis foods, and such overdoses are on the rise. In the first nine months of 2020, 80 percent of calls related to marijuana edibles to the Poison Control Center were for pediatric exposure. In the first half of 2021 alone, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports poison control hotline calls have received an estimated 2,622 calls for services related to young children ingesting cannabis products.
If a child were to eat the entire bag, he or she would be consuming 120 times the maximum legal adult serving. Individuals and companies responsible for putting these edibles within the reach of children should carefully reconsider whether they choose to continue to profit from illegal look-alike cannabis edibles sales. Sellers may be subject to legal action and substantial civil penalties under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Like any other drug, adults should take strong precautions to ensure that children do not have access to any products containing cannabis. Products advertising cannabis should not be purchased online through direct shipment platforms. Parents are encouraged to speak with their children, including young adults, and provide age-appropriate guidance about the dangers look-alike products pose. Symptoms of THC overdose include respiratory distress, loss of coordination, lethargy, and loss of consciousness. If you suspect your child has eaten food containing high amounts of THC and become sick, call the Arkansas Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Consumers who encounter look-alike cannabis edible products are encouraged to file a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (501) 682-2007 or OAG@Arkansasag.gov.