SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Law enforcement officials across Florida are on high alert on and off school grounds as THC-laced candy and snacks are making their way into the hands of children and teens.
THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
One of the biggest reasons for concern is tied to the fact that some of the marijuana edibles are hard to spot at first glace. Most parents we spoke with couldn’t tell the difference at first.
“They look exactly like the labels for a regular candy so yeah, it was a bit surprising to me to see that,” parent Melissa Fino said.
The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office shared an image on Facebook of THC products deputies recently confiscated as a warning for parents.
“Without looking closely, you would never know that these candies, that bear a striking resemblance to ordinary candy, is actually THC infused edibles,” the post said. “Children would not know or see the difference so it’s up to us as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters, to be vigilant.”
Charlotte County officials aren’t the only one confiscating these THC-laced candy products.
Officials at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office say school resource officers have confiscated similar edibles in both middle and high schools.
The Sarasota County School District also sent 8 On Your Side a still image of what appears to be a bag of Cheetos. However, if you look closely, you’ll see it’s packed with 600 milligrams of THC.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Randy Warren tells 8 On Your Side they want parents to be aware.
“It looks like candy, but it is not what you might think because it has that THC in it and they are getting it from places that are obviously very much of concern for us in law enforcement,” he said. “Gummies, Skittles, Warheads – if you look closely you’ll be able to read somewhere on the packaging that it is not the typical candy that you might think.”
Officials with the sheriff’s office are highly concerned about the disguised products making its way into the hands of children.
“We just want parents to be aware of it. We also want to educate kids,” said Warren. “We realize some kids may find this exciting and be curious and want to try it, but there are ramifications to that. It has an impact on them and it can cause an overdose so we’ve got to be very concerned about that. Law enforcement throughout the state of Florida and here in the bay area are very much aware of it. School resource officers are looking for this on a daily basis.”
8 On Your Side reached out to several candy and snack brands Monday for comment. We received multiple responses.
A Frito-Lay spokesperson told us, “The health and safety of consumers is our highest priority. Frito-Lay does not manufacture edible cannabis snack products and any packaging containing THC claims is not associated with our company or brands. We continue to pursue entities selling products which create consumer confusion by illegally infringing on our trademarks and packaging design.”
“This is very concerning to us and is both criminal and an unauthorized, illegal use of our trademarks,” General Mills spokesperson Mike Siemienas said. “General Mills sends cease and desist letters demanding the removal of our branding and trademarks from these products – and we are also taking action against vendors who are selling counterfeit packaging.”
“This is very concerning to us. We do not manufacture or sell any cannabis products. The products in question are illegal and we have never authorized such a use of our trademark,” a Mars Wrigley company spokesperson wrote.