Beware of Salty Snacks and Candy Containing THC
On Wednesday (July 5), the FTC and FDA jointly issued cease and desist letters to several companies selling various food products containing THC, the key psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. In announcing the enforcement action, the government made it clear the problem is not the sale of these products. It is how they are selling them, which according to the agencies is in almost identical packaging to many snacks and candy children eat. Like Doritos tortilla chips, Cheetos cheese-flavored snacks, and Nerds candy, just to highlight a few.
The trickster companies the government is targeting include Delta Munchies (CA), Exclusive Hemp Farms (CA), North Carolina Hemp Exchange (NC), Dr. Smoke (MO), Nikte’s Wholesale (NM), and The Haunted Vapor Room (NJ). Pretty clear from their names, they are not purveyors of food for kids. The FTC and FDA want to make sure it is obvious for their customers too.
According to the FTC, the way these companies market their tasty treats “may violate Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts in or affecting commerce, including practices that present unwarranted health or safety risks.” When it comes to duping children, the FTC is always on high alert. And that is apparently what these companies are doing by mimicking a range of foods that appeal to children. Check out here how their packaging so closely resembles the packaging of some of our favorites munchies.
Dr. Smoke, for example, sells THC-infused “Doritos” that are marketed in packaging that, according to the FTC and FDA, is nearly the same as that of Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips, including using the same red background, the use of the Doritos name and triangle logo, and the depiction of two tortilla chips in the same position. It does the same thing with its THC-infused “Cheetos,” selling them in packages nearly identical to that of Cheetos Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheese Flavored Snacks, “right down to the use of the Chester Cheetah mascot.”
The Haunted Vapor Room sells THC-laced products called Rope 500mg Delta-8 Nerds Candy and Medicated Dope Rope Bites that, according to the government, closely resemble Nerds Rope candy. Both comprising multi-colored crunchy candies attached to a gummy rope and using what appears to be the Nerds candy mascot.
Delta Munchies sells THC gummies that look just like the gummy candies you can buy at your local five and dime. The FTC contends the brightly colored packaging is purposely designed to appeal to children to increase the likelihood they will mistakenly eat them.
The FTC is demanding these companies stop marketing their products to appeal to kids and to report back on the actions they are taking to address the government’s concerns. The cease and desist letters can be found here. In announcing these steps, the FTC was very clear it will not tolerate deceptive marketing that puts children at risk. As FTC Director of Consumer Protection Samuel Levine put it: “Marketing edible THC products that can be easily mistaken by children for regular foods is reckless and illegal. Companies must ensure that their products are marketed safely and responsibly, especially when it comes to protecting the well-being of children.”
Unfortunately, neither the FTC nor FDA has a formal whistleblower rewards program like so many of the government’s other enforcement agencies do (SEC, CFTC, IRS, DOJ, and more) where providing voluntary information to the government can lead to a hefty financial reward. But the FTC does have a reporting channel if you have information relating to consumer fraud or deception. So if you see something wrong and want to report it, you have a place to go. And if you would like to speak to a member of the Constantine Cannon whistleblower lawyer team, feel free to contact us for a free and confidential consultation.
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