By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
August 19, 2022
A politically diverse coalition of state attorneys general is warning parents and the public about edible marijuana products that resemble popular foods — such as Sour Patch Kids, Doritos and Oreos — but instead contain dangerous levels of THC that can be deadly to children.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was one of 23 state AGs who signed a bi-partisan letter to D.C. congressional leaders urging federal action on the issue.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the substance in marijuana that affects a person’s mental state.
“The Christian Action League deeply appreciates A.G. Stein’s signing onto the letter. We have often differed with the Attorney General on other matters. Still, he is right on this issue and deserves to be commended. He has also astutely expressed some concerns about the passage of medical marijuana legislation in North Carolina,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
In March, three Virginia parents took their children to the hospital after noticing lethargic behavior. All three children had consumed THC-laden Goldfish crackers at a childcare facility.
Last fall, an elementary teacher in South Carolina inadvertently gave her students THC-infused candies that mimicked Sour Patch Kids. Around the same time, an Indiana toddler was hospitalized after eating a bag of THC-infused copycat Cheetos.
The edible marijuana products are manufactured and sold without the permission of the name-brand companies. In other words, Frito-Lay’s is not manufacturing THC-infused Doritos — a different company is doing so without Frito-Lay’s permission.
“As the chief legal officers of our respective states, we the undersigned Attorneys General are gravely concerned about the dangers of copycat tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) edibles in our communities, particularly the risk they pose to our children,” the letter says.
Copycat THC edibles, the letter says, “pose a grave risk to the health, safety, and welfare of our children.”
“Congress should immediately enact legislation authorizing trademark holders of well-known and trusted consumer packaged goods to hold accountable those malicious actors who are using those marks to market illicit copycat THC edibles to children,” the AG letter says.
Copycat THC edibles are “widely-available,” the letter warns.
The letter includes pictures of copycat THC Doritos, Crunch Berries, Nerds, Sour Patch Kids and Oreos. Some of them use slightly different names — “Stoneos” instead of Oreos, for example — but use nearly identical packaging as the original.
This summer, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale of candy-flavored marijuana products to minors.
In June, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued an alert warning the public about copycat THC edibles that “can be easily mistaken for commonly consumed foods such as breakfast cereal, candy, and cookies.”
“The FDA is aware of reports of copycat products packaged to look like Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, Froot Loops, Fruity Pebbles, Nerds Ropes, Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids, and Trix, among others,” the FDA alert said.
Individuals who consumed edibles experienced hallucinations, increased heart rate and vomiting, and “many required medical intervention or hospital admission,” the FDA alert said.
Meanwhile, the AG letter cites data showing that the American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 2,600 calls for services related to young children ingesting cannabis products in the first half of 2021.
“This is a growing problem with no resolution in sight,” the AG letter to congressional leaders says.
“… Consumer-packaged goods manufacturers currently lack the legal tools to hold accountable counterfeiters or the ecommerce platforms where these products are made available,” the letter adds in requesting federal action. “The patchwork system of legality concerning cannabis’ legal status under federal and state law exacerbates the confusions for consumers. More can be done to address this problem.”
“If you should ever have any questions about the character of the people who make up the marijuana industry, these products are your answer. With this kind of deceitful packaging and its threat to the well-being of vulnerable little children, it’s obvious they have only one thing on their minds – money – money – and more money,” said Rev. Creech. “They are making so much money; they’re totally unconcerned about any legal or other repercussions. They don’t care. Sen. Grassley’s bill is a first step to dealing with this problem.”