The cannabis edible space has grown rapidly in recent years alongside a wave of legalization for medical and recreational users. Even in states where recreational cannabis remains illegal, purveyors have begun developing delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products — derived from hemp — in a range of categories including edibles, tinctures, and more.
Success always yields new opportunities as well as obstacles and cannabis edible producers are becoming increasingly worried about the latter, according to a New York Times report. Wm Wrigley Jr Co, a subsidiary of Mars Inc, filed lawsuits alleging “illegal and dangerous misuse of its world-famous trademarks” by multiple cannabis companies, the company said in a May 3 press release.
The candy giant claims the defendants utilized its branding to make their products “look substantially like genuine candies,” which poses a substantial risk to children, the press release said. Mars Inc has reasoning in its citation of risk to children, however, as cases of accidental THC ingestion have risen in some states with cannabis markets, including Washington.
Exposure to THC in children aged 0-5 increased 44% in the first 9 months of 2020, according to Washington Poison Center data. Nearly half of THC exposures in all age groups occurred in edibles, though the data makes clear that a significant number of cases occur because the product had been left in the open and in view of the child.
“When companies like these create headlines for doing what we’ve purposely avoided at Wana, I feel anger and frustration,” Wana Brands Chief Marketing Officer Joe Hodas told the NYT. Hodas’ company sells cannabis-infused products in Colorado.
Henry Wykowski, an attorney with over a decade’s experience in the cannabis space, told the NYT that Big Candy’s sudden interest in the edible market isn’t a mistake: “because cannabis is big business now.” Though, Wykowski added that the likelihood of lawsuits like Mars’ usually never reach the courts.
“Five or 10 years ago when cannabis was starting to take off, it was a joke to have something like Cap’n Punch, a cereal that’s infused,” Wykowski told the NYT. “But the industry has matured, and the people who know what they’re doing no longer engage in that kind of conduct.”