The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is issuing a warning to parents over possible cannabis-laced sweets doing the rounds this Halloween.
Cannabis edibles are illegal food products containing THC and come in many forms, but primarily jelly sweets.
Ahead of trick or treating and party season, FSAI is today urging parents and guardians to be extremely vigilant to the dangers of inadvertent consumption, particularly by children, of cannabis edibles.
Some sweets are intentionally packaged to resemble popular brands of jellies in order to avoid detection.
This year to date, it has been reported that six children under the age of ten have been hospitalised having accidentally consumed THC-containing products which looked like normal jelly sweets. In addition, there have also been reports of teenagers falling seriously ill, and in some cases requiring hospitalisation after having seizures and becoming unconscious from overdosing on these cannabis edibles.
The FSAI states that the high concentrations (up to 50mg/jelly) of THC in these illicit edible sweets can pose serious health risks, particularly to teenagers and children of all ages whose neurological, physical and physiological development could be impacted negatively. Depending on the THC concentration, eating one of these jellies can mean ingesting a level of THC that is 5-10 times higher than that inhaled when smoking cannabis.
“The real concern is that children are not aware of the dangers and if they manage to gain access to a bag of these jellies, they will rarely eat just one and therefore, overdosing is a very likely outcome. Unlike the almost immediate effects from smoking cannabis, there is at least a thirty-minute time delay from consumption of cannabis edibles until the initial effects are felt,” said a statement from the FSAI.
Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI says the accidental consumption of edible cannabis products by children is extremely worrying.
“We know adults and/or teenagers are ordering these illegal products from online or other illegal sources for their own personal use. However, they often have no understanding of the real health dangers of these products and are careless or reckless in putting young children’s health at risk by allowing them access to these products. The prevalence of these edible products containing THC in communities and schools around the country is a growing cause for concern and parents and guardians should be extra vigilant during festivities such as Halloween where parties will be underway, and the risk of accidental consumption of these products is considerably higher.”
“We are working closely with other Government agencies including the Health Service Executive’s Environmental Health Service and the Public Analyst’s Laboratory, Dublin; An Garda Síochana; Revenue’s Customs Service; Forensic Science Ireland; the State Laboratory and; the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland to detect and stop the import of these illegal food products into Ireland. We welcome any information from the public in the national effort to curb the availability of these illegal products and to protect our children and young people. We can be contacted through our online complaint form at www.fsai.ie/makeitbetter,” she added.