The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement outlining its plan to address concerns about the manufacture and sale of Schedule I drugs in the form of edible products that may be commonly consumed by minors. In a press release on June 16, 2022, the FDA outlined its plan of action to monitor the production of these products and other emerging cannabis-derived products of potential concern to the FDA.
The products of concern are widely known as copycat products, as they are packaged and labeled to look like popular children’s food brands. Their similarity to specific snacks that are marketed to children places minors at risk of accidental tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, ingestion. Read below to learn more about the risks associated with copycat cannabis products and the FDA’s plan of action to combat their production.
What are copycat THC products?
Copycat THC products are edible, cannabis-infused products that mimic popular food brands typically consumed by minors. These products can look like breakfast cereal, candy, cookies, or other snack foods. Increasing the risk of accidental ingestion for children, copycat products use similar brand names, logos, and pictures, making them easily mistaken for well-known kid’s snacks. Some brands mimicked include Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles, Froot Loops, Nerds Ropes, Starburst, Sour Patch Kids, and Trix. Notably, these knockoff copycat names are infringements of famous trademark brand owners
What are the risks of copycat THC products?
The unintentional ingestion of edible THC products can cause serious adverse events, especially for children. From January 1, 2021, through May 31, 2022, the FDA received over 125 reports on children and adults experiencing adverse events from edible THC products. Some reported effects included hallucinations, increased heart rate, and vomiting. Many reports also noted the need for medical intervention or hospital admission.
National poison control centers also received over 10,000 single-exposure cases involving editable THC within the same period. Of these reports, 77% involved minors. In total, 65% of the cases involved accidental consumption of edible THC products, with 91% of involuntary ingestion affecting pediatric patients. Of the cases that required health care facility evaluation, 83% were pediatric patients. One of these cases resulted in death following the consumption of a presumed Δ8THC edible.
Additionally, makers of these copyright products are frequent targets of infringement lawsuits from the brand owners.
What is the plan of action?
In its June 2022 press release, the FDA stated that it is actively working with federal and state partners to address the issues surrounding copycat products. The administration plans to monitor the market for adverse events, product complaints, and the emergence of other THC products that could raise additional concerns.
In addition to the FDA’s efforts, the U.S. Senate is also taking action. On July 27, 2022, a bill known as The Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act was introduced to the Senate. The bill would intensify punishments related to homicide, bank robbery, carjacking, and more to strengthen violent crime laws. Regarding copycat products, the act would enforce penalties for the manufacturing or selling of Schedule I drugs in the form of candy or beverages if there is a “reasonable cause to believe” that the substance will be distributed to consumers under the age of 18.
Can I sell Copycat Products?
The simple answer is no. Cannabis operators should familiarize themselves with the legal developments of marijuana distribution to minors. Not only is there a risk for products liability or other injury lawsuits for consumption by a minor, by deliberately choosing to knock off a famous brand, your company is risking a trademark infringement, dilution, or tarnishment claim, in addition to potential related state law claims.
By partnering with trusted cannabis attorneys like Chelse Spencer, clients gain the counsel necessary to advance in the hemp, CBD, and cannabis industries. Contact Ritter Spencer Cheng or give us a call at 214.295.5070 for more information.