Narcotics agents could have raided any of the dozens of illicit dispensaries operating in Fresno, California. But it appears police targeted Collective Element Marijuana Dispensary because of the packaging on some of the edibles it sold. And as police raid dispensary over cannabis-infused candy, concerns about the risks legal marijuana poses to children are reemerging as a focal point for law enforcement.
150 Pounds of High-Potency Cannabis Candy Seized From Illegal Dispensary
On April 27, Fresno police executed a search warrant for the Collective Element Marijuana Dispensary. The culmination of a two-month investigation, the raid netted $217,000 worth of cannabis products and strapped six operators with misdemeanor marijuana citations.
Fresno, California is home to 76 cannabis dispensaries, in addition to 44 online delivery services. And they’re all illegal, despite residing in a state with the largest legal cannabis market in the world.
California’s cannabis laws permit local governments to pass ordinances banning retail storefronts. But that hasn’t prevented dispensaries and delivery services from setting up shop under the radar.
Police simply do not have the resources to go after every one of these operations. So they tend to prioritize operations residents report out of concern.
And in this case, the concern was over the child-friendly packaging on some high-potency cannabis candy on offer at Collective Element.
According to police chief Jerry Dyer, narcotics agents seized roughly 150 pounds of cannabis-infused candy.
Under normal circumstances, such cannabis products are totally legal. But the products sold at Collective Element violated California law in two ways.
First, police say the products contained levels of THC that were above the legal limit for edibles. Under new regulations California implemented last year, edible products must contain no more than 100 milligrams of THC total. Individual “serving sizes” can have no more than 10 milligrams of THC.
Beyond that, however, police say the real danger posed by the cannabis candy was its packaging. California law also strictly forbids any kind of advertising, labeling, or product packaging that could appeal to children.
With names like “Cheeba Chews” and “Gummy Buddies” and bedecked with cartoon characters, police say the cannabis candy Collective Element was selling were illegal and posed a danger to children.
Police Say Fresno Dispensary Endangered Children
At a news conference on Wednesday, Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer addressed the dispensary raid. He said the cartoonish packaging and inadequate labeling of the cannabis candy posed too great a risk that a child would eat the candy and “overdose” on THC.
“It would be very difficult for a child to determine whether or not the edibles have THC in them, or if these are regular candies that you would purchase in a store,” Dyer said at the news conference. “There is absolutely no way that a child would know this.”
Statistics do show an uptick in emergency room visits from patients who say they’ve overdosed on marijuana, especially in legal-use states. It’s a phenomenon those opposed to legal weed often cite as the principal danger of legalizing the drug.
Unlike alcohol or prescription drug overdoses, however, which result in thousands of ER visits a year, cannabis use alone has never killed anyone—a fact even the federal government has verified.
Having too much THC can absolutely be a terrible experience, especially for anyone unfamiliar with the drug’s effects. But it’s hardly the lethal danger some make it out to be. Yet that hasn’t prevented concerned citizens from raising the alarm and taking steps to eliminate cannabis from their communities.
Indeed, many feel they have a moral and legal obligation to prevent the sale of cannabis products that can appeal to children.
“Hopefully we’ll ultimately prevent some child in our community from being seriously injured or killed as a result of coming into contact with some of the items,” Dyer said.
High-potency THC candy with child-friendly packaging wasn’t the only thing narcotics agents seized when they raided Collective Element. They also seized a number of other edibles, coffee, hot cocoa, concentrates and vaping products. The six operators detained during the raid have received misdemeanor citations for operating an illegal dispensary. They face $500 fines and a possible six-month jail sentence.
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