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Sweet-Like Cannabis 'Edibles' Marketed to Children on Social Media Sites

© AP Photo / Richard VogelMedicated High Chew edibles are shown on display and offered for sale at the cannabis-themed Kushstock Festival at Adelanto, California
Medicated High Chew edibles are shown on display and offered for sale at the cannabis-themed Kushstock Festival at Adelanto, California - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.09.2022
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The cannabis 'gummy' sweets found advertised on social media accounts — many of them smuggled in from permissive California — contain high levels of THC, the chemical that causes the 'high' from smoking marijuana or hashish.
Confectionary containing the controlled drug cannabis are being marketed to children via social media sites.
The so-called 'edibles' often come in the form of chewy sweets — dubbed 'gummies' — or chocolate bars wrapped in packaging mimicking sweet treats sold in shops.
Reporters from Sky News found dealers offering the disguised drugs for sale on sites including TikTok, Instagram*, Facebook*, Twitter, Snapchat and mobile phone messaging app Telegram.
The sweets, sometimes offered for as little as £5, are often advertised alongside stronger narcotics like LSD, cocaine and heroin.
The companies named insisted that they have strict rules against drug trafficking and monitor their services for harmful content.
Police in the East of England region said that the wrappers appeal to children, and that six kids have been hospitalised after eating them — one only eight years old. They said a third of those arrested in connection with cannabis edibles were under 18.
The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and Essex, said the sweets are particularly popular among boys of secondary school age.
"The way they are branded to look like sweets suggests they are being marketed at children, but worryingly also means that they could easily fall into the wrong hands," said Detective Chief Inspector Rob Burns of ERSOU.
"We also know that gangs involved in county lines will use an array of tactics to target vulnerable young people, and reporting suggests social media is used to advertise the sale of cannabis edibles, potentially to appeal to younger people who are using multiple social media platforms," Burns added.
So-called 'county lines' drug gangs in the UK are known to recruit children as drug mules or pushers in smaller towns or rural areas.
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Many brands of the gummies are imported from the US state of California, where the drug is legal. Others appeared to the reporters to be home-made.
Some products containing the extract Cannabidiol (CBD) can be sold legally in the UK, but the cannabis sweets contain high levels of THC, the chemical that causes the 'high' from smoking marijuana or hashish.
*Activity of Meta (Facebook and Instagram) is banned in Russia over extremism.
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