RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) – Thousands of dollars worth of THC gummies and snacks that were hidden by counterfeited brands were taken off North Carolina store shelves around the state.
Trademark Enforcement Agents with the Secretary of State’s Office and the NC Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force worked with local authorities and other state law enforcement agencies on the coordinated effort to sweep a total estimated retail value of $223,824 worth of fake candies and snacks off store shelves.
THC is the compound that gives marijuana its narcotic effect.
“This goes to the heart of our work to protect health and safety,” said Secretary Elaine F. Marshall. “Earlier this year a 4-year-old boy in Virginia tragically died after eating THC-infused gummies, so the fact that so many of these products were counterfeiting brands geared toward kids is very troubling.”
Counterfeited brands ranged from Skittles and Cheetos to Lifesavers and Girl Scout Cookies. The packaging on the THC edibles included markings indicating the snacks included THC, but Secretary Marshall notes that those markings could be easily overlooked.
“When they’re packaged up in Skittles, that’s something every kid picks up and loves, or Kit Kat… these are all trademark violations,” Marshall says.
The snacks were taken from a variety of establishments, from vape shops to convenience stores and gas stations, as a result of 23 search warrants and 30 consent searches.
Secretary of State Agents worked with authorities including police departments in High Point, Roxboro, Belmont, Clayton, Gaston County, Jacksonville, Selma, Smithfield, Wake Forest, as well as the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, the NC Alcohol and Law Enforcement Division, Asheville ABC Board Law Enforcement Division, the Consumer Brand Association, Vaudra International and Homeland Security.
“If kids aren’t at the reading age yet, they see something in, like a Kit Kat label, [it’s] recognizable, these big national brands, they’re recognizable, and if you can’t read it, they’ll see this and it looks like one thing, but it’s really something else,” Lt. Chris Funcke with the Jacksonville Police Department says.
Marshall says her office has been seeing an uptick in poison control calls.
The secretary of state says all shops and stores throughout the state have now gotten an official warning prohibiting the sale or distribution of counterfeit smoke or THC edible products.