THC-laced fake snacks seized in North Carolina

Enforcement agencies in North Carolina, US say they intercepted large quantities of counterfeit snack products dressed up to look like big brand products that contained high levels of THC and could be dangerous to children.

The seizures took place in the buildup to Halloween and were made from tobacco and vape stores across Eastern North Carolina, according to the Department of the Secretary of State, which said the haul was worth around $170,000.

In addition to the counterfeit branded edibles – which also included chocolate containing psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms – weapons and other drugs were seized as part of the operation. Counterfeited brands ranged from Skittles and Fritos to AirHeads and Oreos.

“These THC-infused edibles are packaged using counterfeit snack brands that are particularly popular with children and teenagers,” said Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. “This growing trend is dangerous for our communities and it’s important to raise the overall awareness of this issue with parents and all residents around North Carolina.”

The packaging for the edibles includes markings indicating the snacks included THC, but this could easily be overlooked as the products were clearly designed to mimic the branded products.

“Halloween is a time when our children are consuming more candy and sweets, so it’s particularly important if parents have THC-infused products in their homes to lock them away like other medications or cleaning products,” said Marshall.

Charges have been filed against a number of individuals for criminal use of a counterfeit trademark, along with other offences.

According to America’s Poison Centres, formerly known as the American Association of Poison Control Centres, reports of cannabis edible poisonings in children 12 and under have increased nearly 700 per cent since 2018. In 2022, there were 6,379 reports to poison control centres compared to 816 in 2018.

Hemp-derived products containing less than 0.3 per cent THC by dry weight are legal in North Carolina, although people with intractable epilepsy may possess and use hemp extracts that contain up to 0.9 per cent THC and at least 5 per cent CBD.

It’s not yet established whether the seized products exceeded the threshold, but given they are sold to users seeking a recreational high that seems highly likely.

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