Schools have been asked to help spread the message about the need for parents to be vigilant to ensure that children don’t eat cannabis jelly sweets or ‘gummies’, over Hallowe’en
The warning was issued in a letter to primary and post-primary schools as students headed off for the mid-term break this weekend, a Department of Education spokesman confirmed.
The Department circulated schools with advice from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) alerting parents to the dangers of children eating jellies containing dangerously high levels of the active ingredient THC in the run-up to Hallowe’en.
The FSAI issued the warning in advance of the Halloween festivities next week where there is an increased risk of people, particularly children, unknowingly consuming these types of products.
The jelly sweets are packaged to look like popular brands of jellies and have been found to contain toxic amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in cannabis that gives users a ‘high’ or feeling of euphoria.
This year to date, it has been reported that six children under the age of 10 have been hospitalised having accidentally consumed THC-containing products.
The FSAI has said parents and guardians are being asked to speak with their teenagers alerting them to the dangers if they eat them or if their younger siblings get access to them and subsequently suffer the serious consequences.
The chief executive of the FSAI, Dr Pamela Byrne, said the accidental consumption of edible cannabis products by children is extremely worrying.
“We know adults and/or teenagers are ordering these illegal products from online or other illegal sources for their own personal use,” she said.
"However, they often have no understanding of the real health dangers of these products and are careless or reckless in putting young children’s health at risk by allowing them access to these products.
“The prevalence of these edible products containing THC in communities and schools around the country is a growing cause for concern and parents and guardians should be extra vigilant during festivities such as Halloween where parties will be underway, and the risk of accidental consumption of these products is considerably higher,” she said.
Dr Byrne said the FSAI is working closely with other Government agencies to detect and stop the import of these illegal food products into Ireland.