Attorney General Kwame Raoul today warned Illinois residents of the dangers of cannabis edibles and hemp derivatives in packaging designed to look like familiar snacks and candy. As Halloween approaches, Raoul urges parents and guardians to be aware that these unregulated similar products are sold online and could pose a serious threat to children if consumed.
Raoul warned consumers that cannabis products with a similar appearance can contain high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis, and can lead to accidental overdose if consumed by children. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the most common overdose cases in children are with cannabis edible ingestion, and such overdoses are on the rise. In the first half of 2021 alone, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that poison control lines had received an estimated 2,622 calls for help related to the use of cannabis products by young children.
“Accidental cannabis overdoses by children are increasing across the country, and these similar looking products will only exacerbate the risk by targeting children and adolescents,” said Raoul. “I urge all residents to look out for and avoid similar products that are unregulated, unsafe and illegal. In particular, I urge parents and guardians to be aware of the dangers of these products for children and young adults. ”
Look-alike products are illegal. Edible cannabis products are subject to strict security controls in states that have legalized the sale of marijuana. For example, a single adult serving size of an edible cannabis product in Illinois can contain up to 10 milligrams of THC, and a pack of edible products cannot contain more than 100 milligrams of THC. However, a single bag of similar-looking Cheetos contains 600 milligrams of THC. If a child were to eat the whole bag, they would be consuming 60 times the maximum legal serving for adults.
Raoul provided the following tips to help consumers protect children from the dangers of similar cannabis products:
- Adults should take strict precautions to ensure that children do not have access to products containing cannabis.
- Parents and guardians should speak to their children, including young adults, and provide age-appropriate advice about the dangers posed by similar products.
- Cannabis products should only be purchased from government-licensed companies where the consumer can verify the source and provenance of the active ingredient and confirm that the product has passed government-mandated testing protocols.
- Products promoting cannabis should not be purchased online through dropship platforms.
Symptoms of a THC overdose include shortness of breath, loss of coordination, lethargy, and loss of consciousness. If you suspect your child may have eaten a high-THC food, call the Illinois Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.