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Editorial

State must ensure THC products don’t target kids

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The New York State Department of Health should move immediately to ban cookies laced with the THC chemical delta-8, a natural hemp extract that is now legal under the state’s medical marijuana law. Natural and legal, perhaps, but it gives users a high just like marijuana.

State lawmakers like Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach, and Long Beach school officials recently brought to light the sale of THC-containing cookies like Trips Ahoy! that are cleverly packaged to look like the familiar Chips Ahoy! cookies sold at your local supermarket. The THC-infused cookies are sold at specialty shops.

Cookies like Trips Ahoy! send a bad message to children, who can easily be fooled into believing the cookies are innocuous. They aren’t.

This was one of the great fears associated with legalizing marijuana: that children would be targeted by the purveyors of pot. There was good reason to believe that. The tobacco industry had long targeted kids with cartoon characters like Joe Camel, until the Federal Trade Commission charged in 1997 that the character violated federal law. The beer industry went after kids with funny-looking frogs.

We see children being targeted with THC-infused gummies. A Florida 6-year-old recently overdosed after ingesting a THC-infused gummy labeled Hawaiian Punch. It looked much like any other bag of candy found on a supermarket shelf, except it was covered in red marijuana leaves.

Recreational marijuana will become legal in New York next year. We must ensure that kids aren’t targeted with friendly-looking THC products before pot goes on sale statewide. Otherwise, marijuana legalization could very well become a bigger youth crisis than it already is.