Pubdate: Sat, 31 Oct 2015
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2015 Star Advertiser
Author: Leila Fujimori


Tainted Treats Send Several High-Schoolers to the Emergency Room

Manufactured cannabis-laced fruit candy that has sickened Oahu teens 
in recent weeks may be touching off anxiety among parents of 
trick-or-treaters this Halloween.

Several high school students wound up in Oahu hospital emergency 
rooms after ingesting candy with THC, the active ingredient and chief 
intoxicant in marijuana. The source was traced to packaged 
rolled-fruit candy, said Keith Kamita, state Narcotics Enforcement 
Division chief.

As part of Halloween-safety awareness, "we are educating the public 
there are candies and fruit roll-ups that they should be aware of," 
Kamita said. Candies containing THC - whether in chocolates and 
brownies or fruit roll-ups and hard candies - are illegal to 
distribute in Hawaii, he said.

High THC levels in the packaged candies can cause rises in blood 
pressure and heart rate, as well as nausea, he said.

"They may hallucinate and that's the spooky part," Kamita said. "They 
may run into traffic or do something else."

Because the products are packaged, the old advice about keeping only 
commercially wrapped Halloween candy may no longer be sufficient.

"We've been telling parents to be extra vigilant," he said. "Before, 
we told them if it's not packaged by a commercial company" and 
appears to be homemade, toss it out.

"Now we're thinking some of these products look like they're 
manufactured," he added.

Kamita's advice to parents: "Have kids bring candies all the way 
home, and go through it before the kids eat it or when 
trick-or-treating with the kids."

He added, "It may not happen, but why take the chance?"

The laced rolled-fruit candies have been found on Kauai, Maui, the 
Big Island and Oahu, so it's being distributed, he said.

Hawaii Heart Foundation Executive Director Pamela Foster said she 
learned in September that several high school students had turned up 
in Oahu emergency rooms with symptoms including hallucinations due to 
consuming the candies. She said she reported the matter to police and 
posted a warning about the candies on the nonprofit's website.

"This looks like it's real cute, yellow-and-red striped, nicely 
packaged," she said. It's one thing if a teen eats it, but "if a 
young child got a hold of this, it could be deadly. We understand 
they're very tasty."

Foster, a former emergency room registered nurse, said, "I understand 
what's going to happen when a 3- or 4-year-old eats one of these 
fruit roll-ups and shows up at the ER near dead from ingesting THC."

The label on the candy says the ingredients include 250 milligrams of 
cannabis extract.

"Parents need to be aware of this kind of stuff, and it is out 
there," Foster said.

Last Halloween, Kauai police warned parents about marijuana-coated 
candy, saying it was gaining popularity where marijuana is legal.

Kamita said the rolled-fruit product was illegally manufactured and 
sold, but the agency is still trying to track down the source, which 
according to one label was a company called Shaka Organics Hawaii.

"It seems to be made in Hawaii," he said. However, it is not being 
openly sold here.

The Narcotics Enforcement Division has found the cannabis candies are 
being sold over the Internet, including on Facebook, Instagram and 
Craigslist. "The dealer has changed," Kamita said.

Another concern is that such products could be coming from states 
such as Colorado, where recreational pot use and medical dispensaries 
are legal.

Although medical marijuana is legal in Hawaii, the state does not yet 
have dispensaries.

"Hawaii wouldn't allow these types of products," he said. "Hawaii 
will only allow tinctures, lozenges or oils but no brownies, fruit 
roll-ups or candies."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom