In California, a ban on gummy bear-shaped edibles moves forward. While this ban may seem arbitrary and a bit silly, there is actually a pressing reason for it. The ban on gummy bear-shaped edibles is to protect children from accidental cannabis ingestion.
It’s no secret that kids love candy. Everyone knows this. Candy companies exploit this fact and target their advertisements to young audiences. It almost doesn’t matter what kind of candy it is. If it’s sugary and brightly colored, you can be certain that kids are going to want it.
While this typically isn’t too bad of a problem, it does pose a unique issue in states with legal cannabis. Kids are accidentally ingesting edibles. And they’re getting severely ill.
The spike happened a year after Colorado legalized recreational weed. And over 50% of these hospitalizations were due to kids eating cannabis-infused edibles. This trend isn’t just a problem in the United States, either. It’s happening in other countries, too.
Marijuana is being infused in all kinds of foods that are tempting to kids like brownies, cookies, candy bars, peanut butter cups, granola bars and gummy bears. Despite their ordinary appearance, a single pot cookie or candy bar can contain several times the recommended adult dose of THC. Anyone who eats one of these edibles—especially a child—can experience overdose effects such as intoxication, altered perception, anxiety, panic, paranoia, dizziness, weakness, slurred speech, poor coordination, apnea, and heart problems.
California is close to finalizing the legislature for recreational weed. But lawmakers want to prevent an increase in pediatric hospitalization due to accidental ingestion. And they have a reason to be concerned. Over the past two years, there have been at least two instances of children accidentally eating cannabis-infused candy.
In these instances, kids mistake “edible” marijuana (like gummy bears, brownies, lollipops, etc.) for regular food and eat it unknowingly. Small children are at higher risk based on their size and weight. Because edible products have very high amounts of marijuana, the symptoms are more severe on a small child. Many young children who consume marijuana edibles require hospital admission due to the severity of their symptoms.
So would a ban on candy edibles work? Is the solution to end accidental ingestion really so simple? As of yet, we don’t have any data to support this idea. But when it comes to the safety of children, shouldn’t every precaution be taken?
The states of Colorado and Washington have already adjusted their cannabis laws regarding edibles. Now, both states have strict preventative regulations. In those states, manufacturers now use child-resistant packaging and warning labels, as well as adjusting the allowed dose in edibles.
But the onus of keeping kids safe can’t just be on the manufacturers. Parents who consume weed need to practice personal responsibility. To prevent children from ingesting cannabis, parents should treat their medicine like medicine. As in, keep it out of reach and locked away in a proper storage container.
Marijuana edibles and prescription medications must be stored up and out of reach, and locked away in a secure place – a locked box is ideal. If they are in your freezer, place them in hard-to-reach areas and in packaging that doesn’t allow a child to see that it looks like a treat. Be sure your child knows not to eat anything without asking first.
In the Colorado study, sources of the accidental marijuana exposure were most often a parent, but grandparents, other family members, neighbors, friends, and babysitters were also sources. Ask anyone whose home your children spend time in if they use marijuana edibles. If a relative, friend or caregiver does, make sure he or she stores them safely and does not use them in front of your children or while watching them.