Digital HealthNew Medicines

Psychoactive Candy

Figure 1: “Nerds” THC sweets contain 600mg of THC.

In the latter half of 2020, it has been reported in the popular press¹’²’³, that a number of school-aged children from Camden, London, UK have been taken to hospital having taken imitation “Nerds” sweets containing the psychoactive element of cannabis, THC. The pack (see above) states it contains a total amount of 600 mg of THC which is approximately 50 joints (see below).

Figure 2: 600mg (of THC) ÷ 12mf (“per joint”) = 50 Joints.

These THC edibles look identical to the popular sweets Nerds “Gummy Clusters”, which are bite-sized version of “Nerds Rope” an American product marketed to children.

Figure 3: Non-THC original version (left) made by Ferrara Candy Company vs THC version (right) made by ?

The bogus packaging warns “keep away from children” – despite having packaging that would appeal to kids.

Figure 3: Other forms of the THC-containing product

Who are making Nerd THC sweets?

What’s fascinating from a pharmaceutical point is that it seems whoever has manufactured these sweets has gone through a lot of trouble to make a product which does the same thing as generic cannabis oil. At first, glance it seems a crafty drug dealer has designed the packaging and created an industrial process to create a tricky formulation en masse. However, this is not the case.

A quick search on Youtube shows a young Youtuber showing how people can make their own THC edibles. This makes you think, that this must be some sort of small scale copy cat operation. However, a quick search on DHGate and ebay and Wish shows that anyone can buy the prefabricated packets for less than £0.27 GBP (Figure 4 below).

Figure 4: Not only can you buy Nerds, but copies of other popular brands.

There is strong meta-analysis evidence of the association between the level of cannabis use at a young age and the risk of psychosis⁵.

In conclusion, it is highly likely that decriminalisation around the world will follow suit as to what is occurring in the US at the moment. Cannabis like any other medicine are tools and can be used for good but can be abused to cause harm which as healthcare professionals we have a duty of care to protect patients against. We need to make sure that these powerful products do not get in the hands of the most vulnerable. One mechanism to stop this type of illicit trade is legislation, if decriminalisation goes ahead, there should be strict rules on age ranges which can access the product and from what location.

References

¹Daily Mail.

² The Sun.

³Evening Standard

⁴Cannabis-induced attenuated psychotic symptoms: implications for prognosis in young people at ultra-high risk for psychosis. Journal of Psychological Medicine, Volume 47, issue 4 (2017), DOI: 10.1017/s0033291716002671

⁵Marconi A, Di Forti M, Lewis CM, Murray RM, Vassos E. Meta-analysis of the Association Between the Level of Cannabis Use and Risk of Psychosis. Schizophr Bull. 2016;42(5):1262-1269. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbw003