Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is warning residents of cannabis and hemp derivatives disguised in well-known snacks and candy as Halloween approaches.
Raoul urges parents and guardians to be aware that unregulated look-alike candies and snacks are being sold online.
The look-alike candy and snacks, which are illegal, can be a serious threat to children if consumed.
Raoul says the look-alike products may have high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. It can lead to an overdose if children consume it.
Symptoms of a THC overdose include respiratory distress, loss of coordination, lethargy and loss of consciousness.
The Department of Homeland Security says the most common overdose incidents among children involve the ingestion of edible cannabis foods.
Cannabis overdoses are on the rise with the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ hotlines receiving an estimated 2,622 calls for children ingesting cannabis products in the first half of 2021.
Edible cannabis products undergo strict safety controls in states that legalized the sale of marijuana.
In Illinois, a single adult serving size of an edible cannabis product may contain up to 10 milligrams of THC, with an entire package containing no more than 100 milligrams.
However, a bag of look-alike Cheetos can contain 600 milligrams of THC, which is 60 times the maximum legal adult serving.
Raoul provided tips to help protect children from look-alike cannabis products.
Adults should take strong precautions to keep products containing cannabis non-accessible to children.
Parents should provide age-appropriate guidance to children and young adults about the dangers of cannabis look-alikes.
Cannabis products should only be purchased from state-licensed businesses. Consumers should be able to verify the source and origin of the active ingredient and they should be able to confirm the product has passed state-required testing protocols.
Additionally, products advertising cannabis should not be purchased online.
Adults that suspect a child has eaten food containing high amounts of THC should call the Illinois Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
Those who encounter look-alike edible cannabis should file a consumer complaint on the attorney general’s website.
“Accidental cannabis overdoses by children are increasing nationwide, and these look-alike products will only exacerbate the danger by appealing to children and youth,” Raoul said.
“I urge all residents to be on the lookout for and avoid look-alike products, which are unregulated, unsafe and illegal. In particular, I urge parents and guardians to be aware of the dangers these products pose to children and young adults,” Raoul added.