Following HNN probe, lawmakers call on DOH to pull dangerously potent THC edibles from store shelves

An HNN investigation revealed some of the cereal bars for sale were as much as 12 times stronger than what’s allowed at licensed marijuana dispensaries.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 5:17 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 9, 2022 at 7:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers are criticizing the state Department of Health for allowing dangerously potent THC edibles to remain for sale at a Honolulu business nearly a week after being alerted to the issue by Hawaii News Now.

State law bans the sale of the product to the general public.

An HNN investigation revealed some of the cereal bars for sale were as much as 12 times stronger than what’s allowed at licensed marijuana dispensaries.

Leaders are now demanding action, saying they’re not bashing the use of THC edibles but are calling for regulation.

The signs outside Pinky’s Hempire in Waikiki advertise health benefits of a cannabinoid called Delta-8 THC ― a hemp derivative that can cause some mild psychoactive effects.

But tests ordered on June 1 by HNN at a state-certified lab revealed gummies and cereal bars purchased from two Pinky’s Hempire locations also contained significantly high levels of Delta-9 THC.

That’s the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. In other words, it’s what gets you high.

“I think it certainly is an issue from a health and public safety perspective,” said Dr. Clifton Otto, a certified cannabinoid medicine specialist, of the results.

Tests revealed a regular “Rice Kripyz Treat” and a strawberry-flavored “Rice Krispyz Treat” that were purchased from the business contained well over 100 milligrams of Delta-9 THC.

“That amount of THC at one time, especially in a naive user, could be disastrous,” Otto said. “That could be a trip to the emergency department.”

State Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, chair of the state Senate Committee on Health, was shocked after hearing about the test results.

“To see products like this just being opening sold that could potentially get into the hands of kids and sicken people is disturbing,” he said, adding that he was doubly alarmed that the Health Department hadn’t acted on the findings.

HNN shared the test results with the Department of Health six days ago.

Keohokalole even reached out to the agency to voice his concern.

His message, “You better get on top of this. If the products that are being sold right now are at levels that pose a danger to the public then we need to take action right away.”

The state Department of Health has authority over all hemp products being sold in Hawaii. That includes the ability to remove items from store shelves. Officials confirmed these edible product aren’t allowed to be sold in hemp stores.

State Sen. Chris Lee says enforcement of the rules is critical.

“It’s important to have regular inspections and that there’s accountabilities that when something is caught or discovered that it’s immediately pulled to make sure the public is safe,” he said.

Keohokalole added, “It casts a pall on a lot of the work that’s being done in the medical marijuana industry that’s done by organizations that are trying to follow the rules. There are many patients out there that utilize marijuana products safely and effectively. It helps And this colors that whole conversation.”

HNN asked the Department of Health again Thursday if its investigators have gone to any of the businesses locations.

Late Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson said in an email, “We are referring the case to the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division for further investigation.”

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