Twenty-four New Jersey residents were charged this week for infusing traditional store-bought candies such as Sour Patch Kids and Nerd Ropes with THC, a chemical found in marijuana, to create edibles packaged in colorful packaging for resale.

Poison Control experts at Rutgers University are available to talk about the dangers of infusing drugs into store-bought candy that can look nearly identical to legitimate candy.

“Illegally produced marijuana [cannabis] edibles raise public health risks for consumers. These products often contain unknown amounts of THC, which may result in unpredictable health consequences to consumers. High concentrations of THC can cause severe effects including racing heart rate, paranoia, panic, and seizures. Illegal products may also contain other unknown drugs or chemicals, significantly raising the risk of adverse effects,” said Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

Also, edible cannabis products are enticing to young children who may become poisoned. “Based upon calls to our poison control center, we have provided medical management on nearly 100 cases involving edibles over the past two years with an increased number of young children exposed. Curious children do find their way into tasty-looking marijuana edibles.”

“Edibles that look like store-bought candy are an accident waiting to happen in young children. A 3-year-old cannot distinguish an edible marijuana product from regular food. Children are not “little adults”, meaning marijuana affects them much differently than adults. Even a small amount of a highly concentrated product can cause devastating toxic effects, some irreversible. Too much marijuana can cause a child to stop breathing.”

“Consumers often underestimate the THC concentration and delayed effects of edibles which leads to unwanted and unpredictable effects. It’s important to know activation times can vary greatly from product to product. The safest way to consume marijuana edibles is to “start low and go slow”; taking this approach will help minimize unwanted effects.”

If anyone ingested a potentially dangerous product or has developed symptoms, call the doctors, nurses and pharmacists at poison control for immediate medical advice, for free 24/7. Calling 1-800-222-1222 (Poison Help line) is always the fastest way to get the medical help or information you need to prevent further injury.