The world's largest candy manufacturer has gotten serious about cracking down on brands that market cannabis products using popular candy logos and other images.
“We were deeply disturbed to see our trademarked brands being used in unauthorized and inappropriate ways to illegally sell THC-infused products,” said a spokesperson for Mars Canada.
The judge in the case has ordered the five proprietors to halt sales and relinquish the rest of their fake-Mars stock, and to pay the company C$45,000 (roughly $40,000 USD) in damages and C$3,200 in costs (roughly $2,500 USD).
“The unlawful nature of the infringing product and the adverse publicity it has attracted has likely had a negative effect on the goodwill (of the Skittles brand), likely depreciating its value,” said Federal Court judge Patrick Gleeson during Monday’s ruling.
Trademark violation wasn’t the only issue that led to the court’s ruling. The judge expressed particular concern over the possibility that such cannabis-infused candy, marketed with familiar imagery, might lure children to consume the drug.
“The fact that Skittles are a confectionary product that are attractive to children reinforces the need to denounce the defendants’ conduct,” Gleeson said.
This is hardly a new concern. Incidents have occurred in which kids have chowed down on candy-cannabis edibles and appear to be rising in frequency in some states where cannabis has been legalized. The threat posed by such situations has been enough to lead to more stringent packaging and marketing restrictions on licensed cannabis companies.
(A reminder: Cannabis exposure has never killed anyone, and experts say that if you suspect a kid has eaten weed and their breathing is normal, a call to a poison control hotline is your best bet rather than immediately bringing them to the hospital.)
Mars conducted its own investigation to gather information for the case. The candy company hired private investigators to buy the Skittles-like cannabis edibles off of the five proprietors’ websites. They were unable to successfully purchase the products from all of them, but were able to turn up evidence pointing to the “Skittles” having been available for sale at one point.
“At Mars Wrigley we take great pride in making fun treats that parents can trust giving to their children and children can enjoy safely,” a Mars spokesperson told CNBC. “We are deeply disturbed to see our trademarked brands being used illegally to sell THC-infused products, and even more so to hear of children ingesting these products and becoming ill.”
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