HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Two toddlers, 16-months and three years old were hospitalized in November 2020 when they unwittingly ate Nerds Rope candy laced with marijuana.
Tyrone Jackson, their father, had locked them in a bedroom so he could smoke a cigarette outside. When he finished, he returned inside the mobile home to find they had eaten the candy. He transported them to the Brandon Healthplex of Tampa General Hospital, where they were in lethargic but stable condition. Another child witnessed the toddlers eating the marijuana-infused candy, which was located inside a dresser drawer.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office secured a felony search warrant for the home owned by the children’s mother, 24-year-old Maria Del Rosio Hernandez-Vasquez, in Tampa. The search warrant’s accompanying affidavit indicates Jackson admitted to not possessing a medical marijuana license and has no arrest record.
Hernandez-Vasquez was cited twice in 2019 to drive without a license and fail to appear at a court hearing. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating drug law violations and potential child neglect and could not comment on the case.
Candy companies’ lawsuits against producers who infuse marijuana into edibles are swelling.
Marijuana Business Daily published a report on November 13th, indicating Nerds candy manufacturer, Chicago-based Ferrara Candy Company, filed suit against California-based Tops Cannabis for trademark infringement because the company was “peddling marijuana-infused parodies of its popular Nerds brand.”
The report said Law360.com revealed ‘Tops Cannabis’ was marketing their Nerds candy as “Medicated Nerds Rope.”
Multiple children – including Tyrone Jackson’s – have ingested the THC-infused candy products. Although California limits THC candy infusion to 100 milligrams per package, Tops Cannabis allegedly infused the candy packages with 500 milligrams.
During 2019, Florida retailers were sued for selling THC-infused candies called “Stoney Patch Kids” that were sold in copied packaging concepts belonging to Mondelez Canada and its “Sour Patch” candies, according to Foodnavigator-usa.com. Even Hershey Company has filed trademark infringement lawsuits.
According to Children’s Hospital Colorado operating in a state with liberal marijuana laws, children under age 12 can be severely affected by the consumption of marijuana. They can also easily overdose. The hospital’s website indicates hospitalizations of teens and children from consumption of medical or recreational marijuana has increased. The chemical THC, which causes the state of being “high,” increases appetite, changes mood, induces sleepiness, and creates balance problems. The website also states that ingestion of marijuana creates a stronger and longer-lasting effect compared to smoking or inhaling the drug substance. However, the long-term effects of marijuana on children are still unknown.
The State Attorney’s office was contacted to assess five-year trends of child neglect involving cannabis edibles, but such detailed research on the subject was not available on a timely basis.