Police crack down on marijuana edibles packaged as candy
Fresno police raided a marijuana dispensary and seized candy inside packages labeled with cartoon characters that would appeal to children, police chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference Wednesday.
Police detained six people and gave them misdemeanor citations for operating an illegal dispensary, Dyer said. They face fines of $500 each and up to six months in jail.
About 150 pounds of candy was seized in the raid, Dyer said. Much of it had high levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana -more than allowed under state law, he said. Some of the candy had clever names such as "Cheeba Chews" and "Gummy Buddies."
The risk that a child might accidentally eat the candy and overdose was too great for police to ignore.
"Hopefully we'll ultimately prevent some child in our community from being seriously injured or killed as a result of coming into contact with some of the items," Dyer said as he stood in front of a table full of the seized marijuana edibles and other products.
The debate over allowing the sale of medical and recreational marijuana in Fresno is still going on, Dyer said. But "we have a moral and legal obligation" to shut down the dispensary because of the risk to the community, especially children, he said.
"It would be very difficult for a child to determine whether or not they (the edibles) have THC in them, or if these are regular candies that you would purchase in a store," he said. "There is absolutely no way that a child would know this."
Marijuana is legal under state law but dispensaries are still illegal in Fresno under local ordinance. There are 76 known dispensaries in Fresno and another 44 on line delivery services, Dyer said.
Police lack the resources to raid them all, but will investigate complaints from neighbors and shut down a dispensary if there's a danger to the public, Dyer said.
After a two-month investigation, the narcotics squad got a search warrant for the Collective Element Marijuana Dispensary in the area of North First Street and Dakota Avenue, he said. The raid occurred April 27.
Besides candy in packages bearing names such as "Muddy Buddy," detectives seized beef jerky, coffee, hot cocoa mix and other edibles containing THC. Also seized were processed marijuana, concentrated THC, vaping products and similar items. Dyer said the value of the seized products was $217,000.