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NY Attorney General warns parents of candy and snacks in ‘deceptive’ packaging containing ‘dangerously high concentrations of THC’

Several social media users have criticised the ‘alert’

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 27 October 2021 13:14 BST
File: New York attorney general Letitia James has ‘alerted’ New Yorkers about ‘deceptively designed’ cannabis products
File: New York attorney general Letitia James has ‘alerted’ New Yorkers about ‘deceptively designed’ cannabis products (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

New York’s attorney general Letitia James has issued an “alert” for parents to keep a lookout for candies and snacks that could contain “high levels of cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” ahead of Halloween.

The “alert” was issued by Ms James on Tuesday with the logic that children could mistake cannabis products to be candy and consume them, leading to “accidental overdoses.”

“New York parents should be on the alert for deceptive cannabis products that look like standard snacks and candy but contain dangerously high concentrations of THC,” Ms James said in a summary of the “alert” in a tweet, along with a press release on Tuesday.

“These products are especially dangerous for our children. We’ve seen an increase in accidental overdoses among children nationwide, and it’s vital that we do everything we can to protect our children,” she added.

THC is a psychoactive chemical that is found in cannabis and cannabis products.

The practice of consuming or smoking cannabis has often been wrongfully targeted as being responsible for causing violence among its users.

While cannabis can cause what the US’s Centres for Disease Control (CDC) terms to be a “disorder” among “3 in 10 people who use marijuana”, it also points out that it is highly unlikely for a “fatal overdose” to occur.

Some common effects of consuming cannabis listed by the CDC include extreme confusion, panic and a fast heart rate.

The press release and the tweet by Ms James included pictures of the “deceptive” cannabis products that are lookalikes of popular snack brands Hot Cheeto Puffs, Oreos, Sour Patch Kids and Doritos.

These products were not made by the manufacturers of the original products.

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

Ms James’s department said that a standard bag of lookalike Cheetos brand product contains 600 milligrams of THC, which is “120 times the maximum legal adult serving in those states.”

“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,” Ms James said.

Several comments under Ms James’s tweet, however, were critical of her warning and suggested she not buy into “the annual hysteria over ‘deceptive cannabis products that look like standard snacks and candy’.”

“I mean, look, I’m no public health expert, but I’d be willing to bet the majority of ‘THC overdoses’ involving children were because irresponsible parents and grandparents left their stash out where kids could find it, not because somebody offered a kid an edible,” said one user.

“Can you name one instance of a marijuana overdose lol,” said another user.

Ford Fischer, an independent journalist, called out Ms James’s warning, saying nobody was “dropping $50 on weed edibles to give them away to unwitting children on the street for free.”

“Children are getting these from their own households by accident, not from strangers giving them away as some kind of super expensive prank,” said another user.

In 2021, the American Association of Poison Control Centres said it received more than 2,622 calls about children ingesting illegal cannabis products.

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