Ahead of the school summer holidays, we want parents to be aware of cannabis edibles which are increasingly being offered to young people across the country.
Cannabis edibles are food products which contain the mood-altering ingredient from cannabis (THC). They are illegal but available in many different forms, including cakes, sweets, chocolates and drinks.
Although cannabis edibles contain an element of the Class B drug, they do not have the smell or appearance of cannabis. They may also contain other illicit substances.
Instead, they look and smell like a normal shop-bought food item but can be stronger than other cannabis products.
And because of how they are packaged, they can be particularly appealing to young people and teenagers.
Indeed, we know gangs are using edibles as a ‘hook’ through which they coerce pre-teenage children into the county lines model. They do this particularly because children aged under ten-years-old are under the age of criminal responsibility.
Unlike smoking cannabis, swallowing cannabis is much easy to consume, however it takes longer to take effect. As a result, those taking them are likely to eat too many due to the delayed effect.
Their purchase is illegal in the UK, but we know the products are advertised for sale through social media networks – and therefore young people are at risk of seeing them.
Drug dealers are disguising dangerous drugs as sweets - could you spot the difference?
County lines gangs are using cannabis edibles to exploit children - could you spot the difference?
Cannabis edibles might look like sweets, but they are incredibly harmful. They are also illegal. Could you spot the difference?
The dangers of taking cannabis edibles
Police forces are working with social media companies in order to clamp down on this practice.
Detective Sergeant Karen Osborne, of our Prepare, Prevent and Protect Team, which aims to tackle the use of drugs in young people before they encounter the serious violence associated with drug taking and the supply of drugs, said:
"With the summer holidays coming up for many young people, we want people to be aware of the dangers of taking cannabis edibles. “Their consequences to young people – and indeed wider society – cannot be underestimated. The products may look harmless, and indeed ‘fun’, but they are very dangerous. “Their effects are much-delayed, meaning young people are very likely to eat a dangerous amount before they even feel their effects. “Let me be clear, the people who are selling these are drug dealers. Their product may not have the appearance of a drug, but their product most certainly is a drug – and a very dangerous one. “Regular use of cannabis can have an impact on brain development, heart health, memory and cognition and psychiatric health. “Long-term cannabis use can be especially concerning in teenagers. It may increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia as well as having an adverse impact on learning and memory. “Please, do not take the risk.”
DS Osborne added:
“We know across the country that dealers are disguising these dangerous drugs as sweets to target and exploit young people. “My message is that these people are not welcome in Essex and action will be taken against them. “But we also need the public to play a part by passing on information to us on anyone selling or indeed taking cannabis edibles and you can do that by calling us on 101, or submitting a report online."