The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is warning the public about the dangers of edible products, such as jelly sweets, containing cannabis components.
The FSAI issued the warning this morning on the back of a number of recent interceptions of products containing high levels of the psychotropic cannabis component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by gardaí and Revenue’s Customs Service.
The FSAI says it is aware of at least one incident where a teenager, who had consumed the so-called 'edibles' with their friends, was hospitalised. It is understood the products were ordered online.
THC is the psychotropic cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that results in a euphoric or 'high' feeling in people who consume it either by smoking, vaping or eating.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1997, THC is classified as a controlled substance in Ireland with no tolerance level set.
The chemical is considered a contaminant in food, with no permitted threshold listed by the European Union.
The European Food Safety Authority has established an acute reference dose of 1µg/kg body weight, above which the safety of ingested THC cannot be guaranteed.
According to the Chief Executive of FSAI, Dr Pamela Byrne, THC is a "toxic contaminant" and should not be added to any food.
"Sweets containing cannabis components are dangerous, particularly for young people and those with prior health conditions who may consume them unwittingly," she said.
"We are warning consumers about the dangers from eating these sweets with cannabis products added. People should only ever buy food from reputable sources and be sure they check the food labels."
Dr Byrne said that often, those who sell food products with high levels of THC online are rarely concerned about the "consequences of these products getting into the hands of vulnerable people like children who could consume these products unwittingly to the detriment of their health".
Those in positions of influence are urged to educate children about the dangers of these illicit products and alert the FSAI or other enforcement agencies where they have information about the availability of these edible cannabis products.
The FSAI says it is currently liaising with the HSE, An Garda Síochana and Revenue’s Customs Service to detect and stop the import and sale of these products into Ireland.