An assortment of edibles featured in the Attorney General’s press release. Credit: Courtesy of the Attorney General's office.

Parents and consumers should be on the lookout for cannabis edibles wrapped in packaging similar to well-known, name brand snack food and candy, Attorney General William Tong said Tuesday. 

Tong and Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull issued a warning on the dangers of illegal “look-alike” products containing high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component found in cannabis often called THC.

Ingestion of cannabis edibles is the most common cause of overdose incidents in children, according to the Homeland Security Department. Connecticut’s Poison Control Center fielded 88 calls last year and 58 calls through July of this year related to youth ingestion of cannabis, according to the press release. 

“These look-alike cannabis products are unregulated, unsafe, and illegal,” Tong said. “Accidental cannabis overdoses by children are increasing nationwide, and these products will only make this worse. While Connecticut recently legalized adult-use cannabis, many of these products fall far outside the range of what will ever be safe or authorized for sale. If you see these look-alike products for sale, please report them to my office and take every measure to keep these away from kids.”

Seagull said the deceptive packaging was illegal and dangerous. 

“That’s why we’ve mandated in our policies and procedures for regulating the adult-use market that all packaging must be black and white, plain, and child-proof, so there will be no mistaking it for a non-cannabis product,” she said. “Once the market launches and legal sales begin, this distinct packaging will help consumers recognize these regulated products.”

Connecticut’s recently-approved cannabis industry is not expected to get off the ground until at least next year, but when it does it will include THC limits on edible products sold at cannabis establishments. A single serving of an edible product is capped at five milligrams of THC. Meanwhile, packages including multiple servings are prohibited from exceeding 100 milligrams. 

Some of the look-alike products cited by the attorney general far exceed Connecticut’s THC caps. A package designed to look like a bag of Cheetos, for example, apparently contained 600 milligrams of THC.

“If a child were to eat the entire bag, he or she would be consuming 120 times the maximum legal adult serving,” the press release said.

Tong and Seagull advised consumers to only purchase cannabis products from state-licensed establishments and ensure children cannot access the products. 

Parents who believe a child has consumed a product containing high levels of THC can contact the state Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 if the child becomes sick. Overdose symptoms include lethargy, loss of coordination or consciousness, and respiratory distress, according to the press release. Residents can also file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office if they encounter look-alike cannabis products in Connecticut. 

In a separate statement, House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said he wished Tong and Seagull had been vocal about the dangers of look-alike products during the legislature’s debate on the state’s recreational cannabis policy when the legislature debated earlier this year. Candelora, a Republican from North Branford, opposed the cannabis legalization bill. 

“The legislators who so fervently pushed for the commercialization of cannabis in Connecticut can talk all they want about safeguards and regulations, but I have little doubt that what was described during the attorney general’s news conference today foreshadows what our state’s marijuana landscape will look like in the future,” Candelora said.