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Children Hospitalized After Consuming Psychoactive Sweets Prompt Calls for Ban

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Over a dozen children have been hospitalized this year, primarily in the Karlovy Vary region, due to consuming jelly sweets containing the psychoactive substance HHC, Radio Prague International has learned. The Ministry of Health is now advocating for an outright ban on such products.

In January, National anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil issued a press release warning about the emergence of new sweets and confectionary products containing the semi-synthetic cannabinoid substance HHC, marketed towards children. HHC, with effects similar to THC found in cannabis, is legally available in Czechia and can be purchased from street vending machines in candy form.

A week later, a spokesperson for the Karlovy Vary Region police force disclosed an investigation into the case of five children, including two middle-schoolers and three elementary school students, who were hospitalized after ingesting HHC-infused sweets.

Markéta Singerová from Ostrov Hospital in the Karlovy Vary region noted a significant increase in cases this year, stating, “The pediatrics wards in hospitals didn’t have many cases like this in 2023 – we started encountering it this year when large numbers of patients were brought to the emergency room with various reactions after consuming products containing HHC.”

These reactions, ranging from nausea and headaches to mood swings and aggression, can persist for 24 to 48 hours, according to National anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil. He emphasized the need for control and regulation by the state, rather than relying solely on bans.

The Ministry of Health is now pushing for a ban on the sale of sweets containing HHC, although Vobořil suggests that banning alone may not be effective, citing the need for comprehensive regulation. He highlighted the delay in passing the new Psychomodulating Substances Act, currently in its second reading in parliament, as exacerbating the situation.

Despite calls for action, manufacturers and sellers have yet to withdraw HHC-containing products from the market. Recent reports indicate a surge in HHC poisoning cases, with the local rescue service in the Karlovy Vary region responding to seven cases over the weekend, as reported by Novinky.cz.

The delay in legislative action underscores the urgency in addressing the issue of psychoactive substances targeting children, as authorities and health experts continue to grapple with the consequences of HHC consumption among minors.

Story originally reported by Radio Prague International.