Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced on Thursday that his office is suing five retailers for alleged violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act related to selling cannabis products without a license from the state, alleging that the shops are illegally targeting the sale of infused edible products to youth. The lawsuits focus on delta-8 THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid that can be produced from hemp.
“Cannabis products in Connecticut cannot be sold by unlicensed retailers and must meet rigorous testing and packaging requirements. Period,” Tong said in a statement from the attorney general’s office. “Any unlicensed Connecticut retailer selling delta-8 THC products that purport to contain high levels of THC is breaking the law and may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties.”
The legal action follows a series of unannounced visits in late December by the Office of the Attorney General to retailers throughout Connecticut. During those visits, officials discovered that the retailers were selling unregulated and untested delta-8 THC products to customers. In many cases, the products are designed to mimic nationally available snack food products that are popular among youth, including Fritos, Skittles, Airheads, and others. The attorney general’s office noted that such untested delta-8 THC products are illegal throughout Connecticut, including from regulated and properly licensed cannabis retailers.
“Our undercover investigation revealed widespread sale of untested, unregulated, delta-8 edibles mimicking popular youth snacks. The five retailers we are suing today offered some of the most egregious look-alike edibles posing the worst risks for accidental youth poisoning,” said Tong. “None of these edibles are tested or approved for sale in Connecticut, and packaging statements regarding THC content and safe serving sizes are not to be trusted. If you see delta-8 THC offered outside any licensed cannabis retailer, do not purchase it, and report it to my office immediately.”
Look-alike Edibles Pose A Risk To Kids
Tong’s office noted that unregulated delta-8 edibles pose a significant health risk for children who may not recognize that the products are infused with cannabinoids, leading them to unknowingly ingest high doses of potent psychoactive compounds. The announcement added that the serving size for many cannabis look-alike products can be very small and that children who eat an entire package of infused chips or candy may ingest up to 100 times the maximum serving size for adults.
One in five children nationally who accidentally eat cannabis edibles are admitted to the hospital, according to information from the Connecticut Poison Control Center. Over the last three years, the center reported 189 cases of cannabis ingestion in children under the age of 19. The majority of those cases resulted in a visit to an emergency department, and about a third resulted in the child being admitted to the hospital.
“For adults 21 years and older who choose to consume cannabis, there are many benefits to shopping in the regulated market,” said Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “Products sold by licensed retailers are required to meet rigorous testing, packaging and labeling requirements to ensure consumers know what they are receiving and that they are getting exactly what they pay for. Unregulated products often are untested, come from unverified sources and can be easily mistaken for products that don’t contain cannabis, which can lead to accidental ingestion by adults and children who may not realize what they are consuming.”
The attorney general’s office also announced that it is in the process of sending warning letters to all licensed retailers of electronic vaping products informing them that selling products with more than 0.3% delta-8 THC by dry weight may be a violation of state law. Products that exceed the limit are considered cannabis products and may only be sold by licensed retailers. Cannabis products sold outside the regulated market continue to be illegal and may subject sellers to civil and criminal penalties.