New York Attorney General Letitia James today issued an alert to New York parents concerning products that are deceptively designed to look like standard snack foods and candy, but actually contain high levels of cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These products — which are illegal and unregulated in New York state — can be extremely dangerous to human health. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) urges parents throughout the state to remain alert against the online sale of these dangerous and misleading products.
“These unregulated and deceptive cannabis products will only confuse and harm New Yorkers, which is why they have no place in our state,” said Attorney General James. “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, it is more vital than ever that we do everything we can to curb this crisis and prevent any further harm, or even worse, death. My office is committed to preventing the sale of these products and protecting the wellbeing of all New Yorkers. I urge everyone to remain vigilant against these products and to report these harmful items to my office immediately.”
These misleading products contain a high concentration of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. If ingested by children, THC can lead to an accidental overdose. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the most common overdose incidents among children involve ingestion of edible cannabis foods, as such incidents of overdoses are on the rise. In 2020, more than 70 percent of calls related to marijuana edibles to the Poison Control Center involved children under the age of 5. In the first half of 2021 alone, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported that poison control hotlines have received an estimated 2,622 calls for services related to young children ingesting illegal cannabis products.
Although New York state legalized adult-use cannabis earlier this year, cannabis products for non-medical use are not yet being sold legally in the state. In other states where non-medical cannabis products are permitted for sale, a single adult serving size of an edible cannabis product contains 5 milligrams of THC, but a standard bag of lookalike Cheetos brand product contains 600 milligrams of THC. If a child were to consume the entire bag, the child would be consuming 120 times the maximum legal adult serving in those states.
As a safety measure, like with any other drug, it is recommended that adults take strong precautions to ensure that children cannot access any products containing cannabis. With limited exceptions, New Yorkers 21 years of age and older are permitted to buy and consume cannabis products containing THC. Symptoms of THC overdose include respiratory distress, loss of coordination, lethargy, and loss of consciousness. New Yorkers who suspect that their child has become sick from consuming food containing high amounts of THC are encouraged to call the New York Regional Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222.