Virginia cracks down on heavy snacks containing THC

The office of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has announced that it will now issue legal warnings to retailers selling snack-like THC products.

ARLINGTON, Va. – Virginia’s top law enforcement office says it is cracking down on cannabis candy and snacks to protect children.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced two weeks ago that beginning July 1, his office would begin prosecuting retailers he says are illegally selling “imitation candies” and snacks as edibles in the THC. Virginia law currently prohibits over-the-counter sales of THC products.

A legitimate bag of Skittles candy placed next to a copycat resembling the popular brand shows little difference at first glance. But the copier’s label advertises 400 milligrams of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. Doctors say 50 milligrams is enough to cause severe deficiency in adults.

A Gushers imitation candy label, found in Arlington, advertises 600 milligrams of THC. Doctors say a single piece is intended for therapeutic use for cancer patients requiring high doses.

However, if children eat these products, it can have serious consequences, doctors say.

“It can even cause them to stop breathing or have a seizure,” said Dr. Jill McCabe, medical director of the pediatric emergency department at INOVA Hospital in Leesburg, Virginia. “The younger the child, the greater the danger. There have been hospitalizations, and even one death attributed to him. In terms of local experience, that’s something we see here and have seen several cases last year.”

McCabe added that parents often unknowingly expose their children to cannabis candy.

“I had a case where a parent had something in their luggage [after] a trip and the kids went for it,” she said. “It looked like candy and the kids ate it.”

Doctors warn that children can take several hours to show symptoms from THC exposure, leading to hospital confusion.

“We eventually found out that they accidentally ingested marijuana while running a toxicity test,” McCabe said. “I think that’s the scariest because the breadth of possibilities that could cause a child to act that way leads to all sorts of testing until we determine the root cause.”

WUSA9 found several tobacco stores in Northern Virginia selling over-the-counter cannabis gummies. Now a first offense will mean a written warning, according to Miyares’ office and a second offense could mean a trial.

As for suing edible makers themselves for copyright infringement, one challenge is that many of these imitators don’t state who made them.

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