N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall led a press conference in New Hanover County this week shining light onto counterfeited, THC-infused snacks being sold across the state.
Alongside the New Hanover County Sheriff’s office, Marshall reported $170,000 worth of these infused snacks were seized as a result of 8 search warrants and 24 consent searches by the Trademark Law Enforcement agents with the Secretary of State’s Office and the N.C. Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force worked with local enforcement. The counterfeited snacks were seized from a variety of vape and tobacco shops in Eastern North Carolina.
“These THC-infused edibles are packaged using counterfeit snack brands that are particularly popular with children and teenagers,” said Marshall. “This growing trend is dangerous for our communities and it’s important to raise the overall awareness of this issue with parents and all residents around North Carolina.”
Marshall notes that while most of these products do include markings indicating the snacks include THC, often the markings are deceptive and targeted towards children. “The packaging is meant to look like regular food, candy, chips, and other sweets. Many times the labels feature a cartoon character or other images attractive to children.”
“We’re not going to stand by while we have these businesses selling illegal drugs and merchandise in our community,” said New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon. “More importantly, we’re not going to allow these drugs to get out into our community where they could harm our children.”
According to America’s Poison Centers, reports of cannabis edible poisonings in children 12 and under have increased nearly 700% since 2018. In 2022, there were 6,379 reports to poison control centers compared to 816 in 2018.
Outside of New Hanover County, Secretary of State agents coordinated with police departments in Bridgeton, Edenton, Kinston, Scotland Neck, Tarboro, Wallace, Williamston and N.C. Central University, as well as sheriff offices in Craven, Duplin, Durham and Lenoir counties.
Marshall said she believed China was a common source of counterfeit consumer products.
“I highly suspect these are manufactured in another country that doesn’t care about our trademark laws. Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime.”