Levels of THC in edibles at Waikiki store more potent than those sold at licensed dispensaries

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A Hawaii News Now investigation of THC edibles being sold to the public discovered potentially dangerous levels of the drug in multiple products, which shouldn’t even be on store shelves.

HNN began investigating the products after receiving a tip. We sent samples to the producer for testing and we paid him.

The results were alarming: All but one of the edibles we purchased were more potent than what’s being sold at the state’s licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

The products were purchased at a business called Pinky’s Hempire, which is among the many merchants with colorful kiosks on Duke’s Lane in Waikiki. The business displays signs advertising the health benefits associated with a delta-8 THC cannabinoid.

And their workers boast about their products’ potency.

“I told the guy, cut it in five pieces. And cut those pieces in half,” one worker told our producer, cautioning him of 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 house-made “Rice Krispyz Treats.”

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“We make these, too,”She said she would show our producer. “They’re 100 milligrams each. They’re pretty strong.”

But HNN found many of their claims about the content of products ― and legality of the sales ― were very misleading.

Dr. Clifton Otto, a specialist in cannabinoid medicines, called the situation alarming. “I think it certainly is an issue from a health and public safety perspective,”He said.

The world of THC products is confusing

You need to be able to explain why the products we tested could have been dangerous.

First, hemp-based food products are prohibited in Hawaii. That means items like THC candies, cereal bars and baked goods shouldn’t even be on store shelves ― except for at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

You should also be able to distinguish between Delta-8 and Delta-9. Both are forms THC.

Delta-8 is a derivative of hemp, a form of cannabis that can cause some mild psychoactive reactions when ingested.

Delta-9, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is what you get. It’s what get’s you high.

Delta-8 is a derivative of hemp, a form of cannabis that can cause mild psychoactive effects when consumed.
Delta-9, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is what you get. It’s what get’s you high.(Hawaii News Now)

The levels found in products could be ‘disastrous’

After getting a tip that some of Pinky’s edibles contained potentially dangerous levels of THC, we sent our producer to purchase five different products from two of the store’s locations. All of them were then tested at a state certified lab to determine the exact amount of THC in each product. The results were eye-opening ― and worrisome.

Otto, a cannabinoid expert, reviewed the findings for HNN.

He stated that customers are shown by them. “ending up with products that have more Delta-9 THC per unit than what the dispensaries are allowed to sell.”HNN purchased all of the edibles except one.

Tests showed that a Delta-8-THCO Cereal Bar contained close to 68 milligrams Delta-9 THC.

The only information on the wrapper was to eat one piece and wait 45 minutes before eating any more.

“Sixty-eight milligrams of THC is a very hefty dose,”Otto said.

“The dispensaries I believe are only allowed to sell individual units of 10 milligrams of THC-9. That amount of THC at one time, especially in a naïve user, could be disastrous. That could be a trip to the emergency department.”

HNN had never tested this product as potent.

Regular “Rice Krispyz Treat”And a “Strawberry Rice Krispyz Treat”Each of the THC-9-rich edibles our producer bought contained over 100mg. That’s more than 10 times stronger than any edible at a licensed dispensary.

After getting a tip that some of Pinky’s edibles contained potentially dangerous levels of THC,...After getting a tip that some of Pinky’s edibles contained potentially dangerous levels of THC, we sent our producer to purchase five different products from two of the store’s locations.(Hawaii News Now)

Store owner claims he’s within the law

We took our lab results on the products to the Pinky’s storefront on Kuhio Avenue. Employees were able call Mark White, the owner of Pinky’s on Kuhio Avenue. He declined to do an interview right then with Hawaii News Now, but said he believes he’s operating legally.

He told HNN that workers do make candy with THC extract but added Pinky’s “does not have an extract operation”They “cannot make resins.”He stated that all of it was purchased starting at two “reputable vendors” in Oregon.

He also stated that he has “DEA lab reports”Each one of their products.

State acknowledges HNN’s findings, but initially declined to investigate

Otto, a trained medical expert, said these words about the situation. “This is something the state really needs to get involved in.”

All hemp products sold in Hawaii are subject to the jurisdiction of the state Department of Health. This includes the power to remove products from shelves. DOH confirmed that the products our producer purchased should never be sold in hemp shops.

HNN immediately received our lab results and contacted the agency to share the findings.

Initial attempts to relay it to law enforcement were unsuccessful. “DOH can’t accept the test results and samples because we can’t accept Schedule I substances.”

It wasn’t until HNN pressed the issue that the Health Department offered to pass the information along to DOH investigators.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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