THC levels in edibles from the Waikiki store are more potent than those sold at licensed dispensaries
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — A Hawaii News Now investigation of THC edibles sold to the public found potentially dangerous levels of the drug in several products that shouldn’t even be on store shelves.
HNN began reviewing products after receiving a tip. We sent a grower to buy samples and had them tested.
The results were alarming: all but one of the edibles we purchased were more potent than those sold at state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.
The products were purchased from a business called Pinky’s Hempire, which is one of many merchants with colorful kiosks on Duke’s Lane in Waikiki. The company has signs advertising the health benefits of a cannabinoid called Delta-8 THC.
And their workers brag about the power of their products.
“I said to the guy, cut him into five pieces. And cut those pieces in half,” a worker told our producer, warning him about another customer’s experience. “He ate half a brownie. And said he was f**** for the rest of the day.
At a second location, another associate promoted Pinky’s homemade “Rice Krispyz Treats.”
“We make them too,” she said, pointing to our producer. “They are 100 milligrams each. They are strong enough.
But HNN found that many of their claims about product content ― and the legality of sales ― were highly misleading.
Dr. Clifton Otto, a board-certified specialist in cannabinoid medicine, called the situation alarming. “I think it’s definitely an issue from a public health and safety perspective,” he said.
The world of THC products is confusing
To understand why the products we tested might be dangerous, there are several things you need to know.
First, most hemp food products are banned in Hawaii. That means items like THC candy, granola bars, and baked goods shouldn’t even be on store shelves except at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.
You should also understand the difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9. Both are forms of THC.
Delta-8 is derived from hemp, a type of cannabis that when ingested can cause mild psychoactive effects.
Delta-9 is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana. That’s what gets you high.
Levels found in products could be ‘disastrous’
After learning that some Pinky edibles contained potentially dangerous levels of THC, we sent our grower to buy five different products from two of the stores. Then we had them all tested at a state-certified lab to determine exactly how much THC each product contained. The results were revealing and disturbing.
Otto, the cannabinoid specialist, reviewed the results for HNN.
He said they show that customers “end up with products that contain more Delta-9 THC per unit than dispensaries are licensed to sell.” Indeed, this was the case for all but one of the edibles purchased by HNN.
Tests showed that a Delta-8 THC + THCO cereal bar contained nearly 68 milligrams of Delta-9 THC.
On the package, the only dosage information was to eat one bite and wait 45 minutes before eating more.
“Sixty-eight milligrams of THC is a very heavy dose,” Otto said.
“I believe dispensaries are only allowed to sell individual 10 milligram units of THC-9. This amount of THC at a time, especially in a naive user, could be disastrous. It could be a trip to the ER.
And this bar was far from the strongest product HNN had tested.
A regular “Rice Krispyz Treat” and a “Strawberry Rice Krispyz Treat” purchased by our producer each contained well over 100 milligrams of THC-9. It’s over 10 times stronger than any edible from a licensed dispensary.
Store owner says he follows the law
We took our lab results on the products to Pinky’s storefront on Kuhio Avenue. Employees were able to reach an owner named Mark White on the phone. He declined to do an interview right away with Hawaii News Now, but said he believed he was operating legally.
He told HNN that the workers make candies with THC extract, but added that Pinky’s “does not have extract extraction” and that they “cannot make resins”. He said everything was purchased from two “reputable suppliers” in Oregon.
He also said he had “DEA lab reports” for each of their products.
State acknowledges HNN’s findings, but initially declined to investigate
Otto, the qualified medical specialist, had this to say about the situation: “It’s something the state really needs to get involved in.”
The state Department of Health has authority over all hemp products sold in Hawaii. This includes the ability to remove products from store shelves. The DOH has confirmed that the type of products purchased by our grower should not be sold in hemp stores.
Immediately after getting our lab results, HNN contacted the agency to provide them with the results.
A spokesperson initially attempted to pass it on to law enforcement saying, “DOH cannot accept test results and samples because we cannot accept Schedule I substances.”
It wasn’t until HNN pressed the issue that the Department of Health offered to pass the information to DOH investigators.
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