The federal government is joining candy companies in a concentrated effort to crack down on companies that produce cannabis-infused candy knockoffs.
Earlier this week, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent cease and desist letters to six hemp companies that produce delta-8 THC edibles. Each of these companies stands accused of marketing their edibles in packaging that closely mimics popular children's snacks and candies, including Oreos, Doritos, Cheetos, and Nerds Rope. The FTC has demanded that each of these companies respond within 15 days or face federal enforcement action.
"Marketing edible THC products that can be easily mistaken by children for regular foods is reckless and illegal," Samuel Levine, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "Companies must ensure that their products are marketed safely and responsibly, especially when it comes to protecting the well-being of children."
One of the biggest offenders in the FTC’s list is Dr. Smoke LLC, a company that has been accused of selling THC-infused Doritos. The infused chips exactly copy the existing Doritos logo and packaging in every way, with only a couple of small logos to indicate that these are actually cannabis products. Dr. Smoke also reportedly sells “Cheetos Crunchy XXTRA Flamin' Hot” edibles that mimic the Cheetos packaging and the Chester Cheetah mascot.
The feds also called out another company for making “Double Stuf Stoneo” cookies, a ripoff of the popular Oreos brand. Stoneos at least went to the trouble of making it abundantly clear that their product contains THC, though. The FTC also targeted some companies that avoided infringing on other companies' trademarks. Delta Munchies LLC, for example, got hit with a letter for making standard infused gummy bears. These gummies don't rip off another company's specific product, but the feds warn that the packaging could still appeal to children.
"Children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of THC, with many who have been sickened and even hospitalized after eating 'edibles' containing it,” said FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock in a statement. “That's why we're issuing warnings to several companies selling copycat food products containing Delta-8 THC, which can be easily mistaken for popular foods that are appealing to children and can make it easy for a young child to ingest in very high doses without realizing it.”
And in a separate but related story, candy conglomerate Mars Wrigley has reached a settlement with a company that was selling THC-infused “Zkittlez.” Back in 2021, the candy company sued several cannabis businesses for selling edibles that infringe on its popular Skittles trademarks. This week, Wrigley reached a legal settlement with Terphogz LLC, a California cannabis company that was accused of selling the knockoffs. Terphogz has agreed to give up its zkittlez.com domain name, stop using the Zkittlez brand name, and to stop using Skittles-adjacent slogans like “Taste the Strain Bro.”