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Police in Peabody, Massachusetts are thanking residents for assisting in the seizure of what investigators say is hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pot-infused candy. Peabody police have arrested Gary Cioffi, who they allege was in possession of several varieties of cannabis edibles branded as THC-infused Wonka bars, Nerds Ropes, Rice Krispies treats and more. Officials are citing the drug seizure as a sign that Massachusetts’ illicit cannabis market is still operating across the state. They’re also calling on parents to be extra vigilant about the Halloween candy their children come home with this year.
Peabody, Massachusetts is a small town of about 55,000 people, a solid half-hour drive northeast from Boston. But the counterfeit cannabis candy the town’s police department seized bears the mark of illicit products that have been circulating around the region for months. Back in June, for example, members of an Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force intercepted packages containing several pounds of marijuana edibles. Like the candy seized in Peabody, the packages intercepted in Kentucky contained edibles with branding that closely resembled Nerds Rope candy.
Those products still contained clear warnings that they contained THC. They used compliance and warning labels resembling California packaging requirements, listed THC content and said “Medical” across the top. Despite the warnings, however, it would have been easy to mistake the cannabis edibles for the retail versions of the candy, especially for very young people. HIDTA’s bulletin about the seizure referenced the colors, shapes and promotional mascots that make them appear like typical candy and attractive to children.
As a result of HIDTA’s seizure of the candy, United States Attorney Mike Stuart issued a warning to the West Virginia public about the presence of cannabis-infused candy in the area. “This fake ‘candy’ is all trick and no treat,” said Stuart. “It looks like popular candy, tastes like candy. But, instead, it is a very powerful and potent way to get high.”
Peabody officials are now offering the same warning to parents. With Halloween just days away, they’re calling on parents to be especially vigilant about the candy their children bring home from their trick-or-treating adventures. Based on the Peabody Police Department’s images of the seized candy on Facebook, the counterfeit edibles seem to have nearly identical packaging.
Images show the products all contain some kind of subtle cannabis branding, whether with a weed leaf badge or a indication of THC content. It’s tough to make out brands or manufacturers in the police images, but “Loud LA” appears on boxes containing weed-infused Wonka bars. In addition to the candies, Peabody Police officers also seized several pounds of dried cannabis and counterfeit THC vape cartridges labelled with the brand “Bloom.”
Behind all the cannabis police seized, there’s an inconspicuous neighborhood watch sign. And in the Facebook post announcing the seizure and arrest, Peabody Police “thank the neighbors for their cooperation in this matter.” Now, the town has a message for other watch groups and parents: keep an eye on your children this Halloween.
Even so, fears about children coming home with cannabis-infused candy should be tempered with the knowledge that illicit cannabis dealers likely aren’t going to give away products they intend to sell. And now, hundreds of thousands of dollars of those lookalike candies are off the street. And that’s good for adult cannabis consumers, as well. Counterfeit edibles may appear to be real products, but they’re manufactured in unknown and unregulated conditions. As such, they pose a serious health risks to cannabis consumers.
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