OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert warning Californians of cannabis-infused edibles that are being packaged and sold as copycat versions of popular food and candy products. These illegal and unregulated edibles may contain dangerously high-levels of THC and be sold in packaging nearly identical to those of popular brands, such as Cheetos, Fruity Pebbles, and Sour Patch Kids. Attorney General Bonta today reminds all Californians against consuming these illicit, potentially dangerous cannabis products and urges them to report these products if they come across them.
“While cannabis-infused edibles packaged to look like our favorite brands may seem harmless and fun, the dangers of consuming unregulated and untested cannabis products are high, particularly for children and teens,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The fact is: here in California, we have a safe, regulated, and legal cannabis market. But if a product is being marketed to children, mimicking a well-known consumer brand, and advertising sky-high levels of THC — it’s not likely to be a part of it. I urge all Californians to look carefully at the packaging of the products they are purchasing and report these copycat products if they come across them.”
IDENTIFY LOOKALIKE PRODUCTS: Cannabis-infused edible products are being made to mimic major brands, including Oreos, Doritos, Cheetos, and more. The products are primarily sold online and at unlicensed shops, are marketed to children and teens, and often boast levels of THC at many times the legal limit.
At first glance, the packaging for these illegal products appear nearly identical to those of major brands, but no major candy or food companies manufacture or sell cannabis or CBD products. Californians should look for copycat packaging with language that indicates that the product contains cannabis — such as “medicated”, “THC,” “CBD,” “keep out of reach of children and animals,” and/or an image of a cannabis leaf.
In California, legal cannabis products must be affixed with the universal symbol. If you see indications of copycat packaging or do not see the universal symbol, the product is illicit — and may be dangerous.
KNOW THE HEALTH RISKS: Illegal cannabis products present a risk to public health and safety. Children can experience a variety of delayed symptoms upon ingesting cannabis edibles, including, but not limited to difficulty breathing, lethargy, dizziness, nausea, and loss of coordination. Illegal products made with synthetic cannabinoids may pose additional health risks. Synthetic cannabinoids can be highly toxic and are illegal in the state of California. Side effects of consuming synthetic cannabinoids include rapid heart rate, agitation, vomiting, trouble breathing, psychosis, among others.
In recent years, California has seen an uptick in pediatric exposure and ICU visits related to cannabis edibles, as well as an increase in children as young as 12 who are intentionally using cannabis products. In 2020, there were 1,173 calls to the Poison Control Center for services related to children age 0-19 ingesting cannabis products. This is up from 404 calls in 2016, with the biggest increase for children age 0-5. California has also seen a rise in emergency room visits related to cannabis poisoning among young children. In 2016, there were approximately 21 visits per one million Californians age 0-5. In 2020, there were approximately 113 visits.
If you suspect that your child has accidentally consumed these illicit products, monitor them for symptoms of intoxication. California’s Poison Control System has a 24-hour hotline available for immediate assistance. The toll-free phone number is (800) 222-1222. Language interpreter services are offered in over 200 different languages and calls are kept confidential.
REPORT ILLEGAL PRODUCTS: The manufacture and sale of cannabis-infused edible products made to look like major brands is illegal. These products are sold by unlicensed operators, often contain extremely high-levels of THC beyond the legal limit, and are advertised to youth in violation of the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.
If you encounter lookalike cannabis-infused edible products, please file a complaint with our office at www.oag.ca.gov/report and with the Department of Cannabis Control at https://cannabis.ca.gov/resources/file-complaint/ or at firstname.lastname@example.org.