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What's hidden in your cannabis edibles?

Published May 2, 2021 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / HighGradeRoots

Counterfeit marijuana edibles that look just like regular candies we know and love including Nerds (Nerds Rope), Sour Patch (Stoner Patch), Starburst (Gushers), and Snickers, are growing in popularity. Despite their illegal status, consumers flock to black-market dispensaries to buy up the fake pot products. It’s an issue just about everywhere, but we hear about it the most in the US and Canada, two countries that boast some semblance of a legal industry.

These treats are prohibited from a chance on the legal market because they look just like candy that is normally safely enjoyed by kids, and they rely on advertising that forces an association with trusted brands, making them seem innocent, fun, and pure. Though some advocates argue that adults should be able to have just as much fun with infused food as they can with alcohol, critics point towards accidents that have already happened as an example of why this rule is one that is likely to stay.

Dozens of incidents have surfaced where underage youth accidentally consumed these counterfeit cannabis edibles. In some cases, they reached for them on their own, and in others, adults who were fooled by the convincing mock packaging even gave them to kids, not knowing that an intoxicating ingredient was discreetly hidden within. These scenarios have triggered investigations into the black-market products, at which time the contents of confiscated weed candy were tested.

Though we all have to keep an eye out for potential risks when it comes to our youth and their exposure to cannabis, the biggest concern here is that those who buy them have no idea what’s inside, which can make it difficult to narrow down potential causes of adverse effects. Luckily, those that were tested didn’t come back as containing hazardous or toxic ingredients. Still, they found inconsistencies between packaging and reality that could be deceiving.

What’s in Nerds Rope?

If you’re looking for a complete list of ingredients, then you’ll be searching for a lifetime because each one is faked in an entirely different way. However, two labs have posted their findings which suggest that Nerds Rope, as well as other counterfeit edibles, are often just the real thing, just repackaged using black market wrappers after a quick dip in cannabis distillate.

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There is no version of any of these candies that are produced by a licensed, regulated, or existing cannabis company. Instead, they’re tossed together in basements, warehouses, and on other private, discreet properties before being shipped out en mass and sold to unsuspecting consumers. Anyone could make them, and they could put anything they wanted to in them, and that’s terrifying.

Aside from the general health concerns surrounding any consumable product made without high sanitary standards or oversight, there is also a problem of potency which is never consistent with these black-market candies. They are often many times stronger than the package suggests, making it easy for legal-aged consumers to make awful mistakes by accidentally overdosing.

Is this something we should worry about?

Black-market pot products were once the norm, which makes it easy to become comfortable with things that we don’t quite fully understand in this department, but this is something that all consumers should be aware of. For the sake of youth as well as duped adults, many of whom don’t realize the risks that they take each time they take a bite of an illegal edible.

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Holiday Cannabis Cooking Conference


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