Virginians are being warned about the dangers of cannabis edibles and hemp derivatives in packaging designed to look like well-known snack foods and candy, which are marketed towards children, according to a release from Attorney General Mark R. Herring.
These products are unregulated, illegal, and may be extremely dangerous, especially if they are ingested by children, Herring said in the release.
Although Virginia recently legalized adult-use cannabis, regulated cannabis products are not being sold yet legally in the Commonwealth. When retail establishments are licensed to sell cannabis, edible products will be subject to strict safety controls and regulations.
Edible cannabis products may contain high concentrations of 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.
“Look-alike cannabis products are unregulated, illegal, and unsafe, especially if they get in the hands of children. While Virginia has now legalized adult-use cannabis, we must remain vigilant and ensure that our children are protected from accidentally ingesting edible cannabis products,” said Herring. “Edible cannabis products are of significant concern because they are often deliberately packaged in a manner to resemble products familiar to children, such as cereal, snacks or candy. My office is committed to ensuring that when the lawful sale of cannabis products begins in the Commonwealth, it is done so in a safe and responsible manner. I hope to work with the legislature in the upcoming session to make sure that we’re appropriately addressing and regulating dangerous synthetic cannabis look-alike products.”
Like any other drugs, adults should take strong precautions to ensure that children do not have access to any products containing cannabis.
Subject to limited exceptions, only adults 21 and older are permitted to consume cannabis products containing THC.
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 a food contaminating high amounts of THC and become sick, call the Virginia Poison Center Hotline at 1 (800) 222-1222.