Cannabis sweets packaged to look like HARIBO are being ‘pushed to children’ on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook – and sold alongside cocaine and heroin
- Police warned children are having drugs ‘marketed’ to them on social media sites
- Drug dealers selling cannabis are easily found on Facebook, TikTok & Telegram
- Cannabis sweets are packaged in fake packets of Haribo, Skittles and more
- Telegram channels with 30,000 members are advertising cocaine and ketamine
Drug dealers prolifically operating on the UK’s social media websites and messaging services are selling ‘gummies’ and ‘edibles’ in colourful bags designed to look like brands popular with children, including Haribo, Skittles and Jolly Ranchers.
These fake bags, which are not associated with the brands, make the drugs enticing for young children, police have warned.
Easily discoverable channels on messenger app Telegram are advertising cannabis gummies along with hard Class A drugs including cocaine, heroin, ketamine and ecstasy.
Drug dealers are selling sweets containing cannabis on mainstream social media platforms including TikTok and Facebook
These fake bags, which are not associated with the brands, make the drugs enticing for young children, police have warned
Cannabis sweets in a ‘Baribo’ packet being sold over Facebook marketplace
A child as young as eight, and seven other children, have had to be taken to hospital after consuming the drugs
Police forces in the east of England said that a third of those arrested for cannabis edible related charges are under 18-years-old, Sky News reports.
A child as young as eight, and seven other children, have had to be taken to hospital after consuming the drugs.
The drugs can also be used to groom children into working for trafficking operations known as county lines.
A Telegram channel, for people selling drugs in the UK, has nearly 30,000 subscribers and sells cannabis hash in very large quantities, at £4,000, alongside the cannabis sweets for as little as £5 – including ‘Queen Elizabeth eggs’ for £60 each.
They also sell bulk orders of cocaine to their subscribers for £1,300 for 28g.
Cannabis ‘edibles’ are also being advertised on Facebook marketplace in the UK and can be easily searched for.
These items numerously appear at the top of results when searching for ‘edibles’, with dealers selling vast quantities of sweets and crisps containing with drugs.
A Telegram channel with nearly 30,000 subscribers advertises cannabis edibles, including sweets, crisps and biscuits, for as little as £5 per 100g
This same channel also sells large quantities of cannabis hash and ‘Flake’ a street name for cocaine for £1,300 per 28g
A Telegram channel advertising ‘Queen Elizabeth eggs’ for £60 each
Another channel sells large quantities of ketamine, ecstasy pills
Dealers can also be found advertising sweets containing drugs on video-sharing platform TikTok as well as Instagram, which is owned by Meta, Facebook’s parent company.
Nearly all police forces in the UK have reported issues with cannabis sweets.
Detective Chief Inspector Rob Burns from the The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit has warned about the illegality and said he was concerned over how they were ‘marketed at children’.
‘The way they are branded to look like sweets suggests they are being marketed at children, but worryingly also means that they could easily fall into the wrong hands,’ he told Sky News. Those with information on the sale of drugs or who thinks a child is being exploited should immediately contact the police.
Police have warned that the counterfeit branding of favourite childhood sweets could lure children into taking them and become involved in county lines operations
Drugs in packets designed to look like Skittles, Sour Patch Kids and crisps like Cheetos
The social media companies said they all have strict policies against selling drugs and that they actively monitor the issues using technology and human reviewers.
Meta, who owns Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp, told Sky News that they removed 98 per cent of this content proactively in the last quarter and that they are working with the police and youth organisations to further improve their moderation.
Confectionary brands have hit out against the rip-off packaging and some have pursued this through the courts.