The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has warned parents and guardians about the dangers of children consuming cannabis edibles ahead of Halloween next week.
The FSAI warned that these products, in particular jelly sweets containing significant amounts of THC, are becoming more widespread in Ireland.
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.
The FSAI stated that the high concentrations (up to 50mg/jelly) of THC in these 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 five to ten times higher than that inhaled when smoking cannabis.
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.
This poses a serious risk to those who have eaten these jellies who might mistakenly believe that they need to consume several jellies to feel an effect and then find they have overdosed when it is too late, the FSAI said.
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,” said Dr Byrne.
“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.”
Dr Byrne said that the FSAI is working closely with other Government agencies 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.