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‘Copycat’ cannabis edibles resembling candy causing serious harm to kids, Health Canada warns

Health Canada has issued a warning over “copycat” cannabis edibles that closely resemble popular candies and snack foods, saying it is aware of several instances of children being hospitalized after consuming the illegal products.

The warning, issued Wednesday, mentions several unregulated cannabis products with flashy packaging, pictures and catchy names or symbols that mimic popular brands such as “Stoneo,” packaged to look like Oreo cookies, or “Medicated Sour” Skittles packaged to look like the popular candy.

“Examples of copycat illegal edible cannabis can include cereal and snack foods such as chips, cheese puffs, cookies, chocolate bars, and a variety of popular candies in colourful packaging,” reads the warning.

“These products can contain high amounts of THC, which increases the risk of experiencing adverse effects or poisoning. Parents and children may not be able to recognize these products as anything other than their favourite brands of candy or snack foods.”

Legal cannabis products regulated by Health Canada, are packaged in very plain packaging with the official red cannabis symbol, an excise stamp, health warning labels and clearly stated levels of THC or CBD.

The products must be designed without flashy colours or signage in order to reduce their appeal to kids and youth and to avoid them being confused with other products.

“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. These products are illegal and prohibited under the Cannabis Act and its Regulations,” Health Canada said in the warning.

In Canada, legal edible cannabis products can only contain up to 10 milligrams of THC per package. If a retailer is selling edible cannabis products that contain more than 10 milligrams of THC per package, it is illegal and unregulated.

Some of the products included in the warning are labelled as “extra strength,” suggesting they may contain more than the 10 milligrams allowed by law.

If you have edibles at home, Health Canada notes you should store them securely away from children, teens, and pets. Consider storing cannabis products in a locked drawer or box, and separate from regular food or drinks.

Signs that a child has ingested cannabis can include chest pain, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, severe anxiety or panic attack, agitation and confusion, slurred speech, and loss of consciousness.

If you think your child has ingested cannabis and is having any of these symptoms, call 911, or contact your regional poison center.

Health Canada reminds Canadians they should only buy cannabis-related products from provincially and territorially authorized online retailers or authorized retail stores. A list of regulated stores can be found here.

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