‘Copycat’ cannabis edibles causing serious harm to children, Health Canada warns

Lena Weib

“Parents and children may not be able to recognize these products as anything other than their favourite brands of candy or snack foods.”

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Children have been hospitalized after accidentally eating illicit “copycat” cannabis edibles made to look like popular candy and snack foods, Health Canada says.

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The regulator issued a warning to consumers Wednesday to only buy legal products — which have THC limits and come in plain packaging with child-resistant features — and to store all cannabis products away from kids, teens and pets.

“Health Canada is aware of several cases of children being hospitalized, particularly after consuming products that are illegal and unregulated,” a release said.

“Illegal edible cannabis products may be packaged to look like popular brands of candies, snacks or other food products that are typically sold at grocery stores, gas stations and corner stores.”

The illegal products include cereal, chips, cheese puffs, cookies, chocolate bars and candy in colourful packaging that can contain high levels of THC. The long list of products the agency says it’s aware of being sold include products packaged to look like Oreo cookies, Cheetos, Froot Loops, and Skittles and Starburst candies.

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“Parents and children may not be able to recognize these products as anything other than their favourite brands of candy or snack foods,” Health Canada said.

Kids and pets are at a greater risk of cannabis poisoning, which isn’t known to be fatal, but can cause effects including chest pain, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, respiratory depression, panic attacks and psychotic episodes, the agency said.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Provincial Police said a 38-year-old Quinte West man faced a charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm after a three-year-old was taken to hospital after eating a large quantity of cannabis edibles.

To a child, edibles can look like candy or other treats, the OPP warned in February, advising people to keep cannabis products away from kids and to call 911 if they suspect kids have consumed them.

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