LaFollette, Tennessee Chief of Police Jim Jeffries has been on the force for almost 20 years. During his time in the department, he has conducted numerous marijuana seizures. They have almost always involved the same kind of stash – dry green buds with a distinctive scent, double-bagged to hide the smell.
According to The New York Times, Jeffries is now looking for marijuana in a new type of vessel – lollipops, marshmallows and other sweet treats.
In a recent bust, LaFollette officers discovered 24 pounds of marijuana-laced cookies, hard candies and bags of marshmallows. Although they resembled the real thing, a meat injector and a tub of pungent marijuana butter gave their guise away. The marshmallows had been injected with the “butter” and the bags resealed.
Jeffries said, “This is the first time that we have ever seen marijuana butter or any of this candy containing marijuana in the county. We hope it’s the last time.”
Across the country, “pot edibles” are popping up as an easy vessel to smuggle marijuana. Often looking like candy or baked goods, they also come in the form of mints, gummy bears and other sweet treats. Very few officers have been formally trained to think “marijuana” when they see it in this form.
Another concern about smuggled pot edibles is that it appeals to a broad market, especially a younger crowd. Because it is easy to consume, it can sometimes be eaten too fast resulting in expected effects by the user. Young children have been known to accidently digest laced sweets.
The New York Times reported that there are no hard numbers for the amount of pot edibles being trafficked interstate, but police departments in a variety of jurisdictions without legal sales report seizing increasing amounts in the past year. The quantities suggest the products are intended to supply a growing demand.
In February, Missouri troopers confiscated 400 pounds of commercially made marijuana chocolate, including Liquid Gold bars, hidden in boxes in an Infiniti QX60. In New Jersey, which has medical dispensaries where pot edibles cannot be sold, the state police last month seized 80 pounds of homemade marijuana sweets from the car of a Brooklyn man. In July, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs confiscated roughly 40 pounds of commercial marijuana products in one seizure, including taffy-like Cheeba Chews and bottles of cannabis lemonade.
“There’s no doubt there’s a growing market for edible marijuana products,” said Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma bureau.
The demand for confections laced with marijuana has caught many health officials by surprise. Pot edibles took off in 2014, the first year of recreational sales in Colorado, when nearly five million individual items were sold to patients and adult users.
The popularity of the products in Colorado and Washington State has bred an abundant assortment of snacks and sweets, from Mondo’s sugar-free vegan bars to Dixie Edibles’ white chocolate peppermint squares.
Today, consumers 21 and older can legally buy pot edibles in Colorado and Washington State. Soon adults in Oregon and Alaska will join them. Pot edibles are available to medical users in at least a half dozen of the 23 states with medical marijuana programs.