RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein wants lawmakers to crack down on THC edible manufacturers who may be targeting children.

Stein’s office said some manufacturers are designing their products and packaging to look like snack items popular with kids. His office said these ‘copycat THC sellers’ have increased accidental THC consumption in children.

How big is the problem?

In an alert earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration said from Jan. 1, 2021, through May 31, 2022, they received information of more than 125 children and adults experienced some sort of side effect from THC edibles.

The FDA said some of those effects are hallucinations, increased heart rate and vomiting, and many required medical intervention or hospital admission. FDA also said, “10 of the reports specifically mention the edible product to be a copycat of popular foods, such as Cocoa Pebbles, Gushers, Nerds Rope, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, and Starbursts.”

The FDA also said national poison control centers receive 10,448 calls about single substance exposure cases involving only edible products containing THC between those dates as well. Of these cases,

  • 77% involved patients 19 years of age or younger
  • 65% involved unintentional exposure to edible products containing THC
  • 91% of unintentional exposures were in children
  • 79% of the total cases required health care facility evaluation
  • 83% of patients requiring health care facility evaluation were children

Pushing for legislation

“Copycat THC sellers are taking advantage of well-known brands to put our kids at risk,” said Stein. “They’re playing fast and loose with people’s safety to make an extra buck. I hope Congress acts quickly so companies can use legal measures to hold copycats accountable and we can keep young people safe.” 

Stein was joined by more than 20 other attorneys general in a letter to Congress urging them to “immediately enact legislation authorizing trademark holders of well-known and trusted consumer packaged goods to hold accountable malicious actors who are marketing illicit copycat THC edibles to children. “

In the meantime, the FDA said they are actively working with federal and state partners to further address these concerns.