Health Canada is warning parents to be wary of illegal “copycat” edible cannabis products that have sent several children to hospital after they were accidentally ingested.
In a statement released Wednesday, the national health body said many of these unregulated products are packaged to look like popular candies but remain prohibited under the Cannabis Act.
Health Canada pointed to cannabis-infused cereal, chips, cheese puffs, cookies, chocolate bars and a variety of candies
“These products can contain high amounts of THC, which increases the risk of experiencing adverse effects or poisoning,” wrote a spokesperson for Health Canada.
“Parents and children may not be able to recognize these products as anything other than their favourite brands of candy or snack foods.”
Cannabis poisoning is not known to be fatal. But accidentally consuming too much can lead to “temporary adverse affects,” wrote the spokesperson, including chest pain, rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting.
Other signs of cannabis poisoning include a psychotic episode, severe anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, slurred speech or confusion and loss of consciousness. In some cases, a child might appear unsteady on their feet, drowsy or experience muscle weakness.
Health Canada recommends consumers shop at government-regulated stores. All edible cannabis products should be stored out of the reach of children in a locked drawer or box separate from other food.
Anyone suffering a medical emergency related to cannabis poisoning should call 911 or contact the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 1-800-567-8911.
One way to recognize if a product is a copycat or not is to look for its THC content. Authorized retailers selling a product with more than 0.3 per cent THC must have an excise stamp when they are sold; otherwise, it’s illegal.
Legal edibles can also only contain up to 10 milligrams of THC per package. That package must be child-resistant and will also be marked with a THC symbol and a health warning message inside a yellow box.
Flashy packaging or catchy names are avoided on legal products to avoid enticing children.
Health Canada is flagging the following edible cannabis products as illegal:
- Stoneo packaged to look like Oreo Cookies, and offered in several flavours
- Cheetos products packaged to look like Cheetos, offered in several varieties
- Nerds Rope packaged to look like Nerds Rope
- Froot Loopz packaged to look like Froot Loops
- (Medicated Sour) Skittles packaged to look like Skittles
- (Sours Medicated) Starburst Gummies or Cannaburst Gummies Sours packaged to look like Starburst
- Ruffles, Doritos, Fritos packaged to look like Ruffles, Doritos and Fritos
- (Medicated) Jolly Rancher Gummies Sours packaged to look like Jolly Ranchers
- Stoney Patch packaged to look like Sour Patch Kids
- Airheads Xtremes packaged to look like Airheads
- (Herbivores Edibles) Twonkie packaged to look like Twinkies
- Fruit Gushers packaged to look like Fruit Gushers
- MaryJanerds products including:
- Sour Watermelon
- Sour Patch Kids
- Sour Cherry Blasters
- Fuzzy Peach packaged to look like Maynard candy brands
Illegal products can be reported to Health Canada's Cannabis Reporting Form.