Edible Pot: One Problem of Marijuana Legalization
The Colorado marijuana industry has produced marijuana-infused edible products that are so tasty, people often cannot tell the difference between a brownie laced with THC and one without the psychoactive chemical. This is a growing concern as new reports show a rise in the incidence of accidental ingestion of recreational or medical marijuana food items including chocolate brownies, cupcakes and a large assortment of candies.
Rachel O’Bryan, an attorney and founding volunteer leader of Smart Colorado, a group that advocates for stricter marijuana regulations states,
“We’ve heard so many stories of people consuming marijuana not knowing it was marijuana. Without a stamp or a clearly visible difference, these products are deceptive.”
Groups similar to Smart Colorado would like to see clearly marked packaging and the products stamped with an easily identifiable symbol such as a pot leaf, but this becomes problematic with infused liquids and bulk granola trail mixes, for example. Marked packaging will work on some items, but will be impractical on others.
Then there is the question of whether children are responsible enough to identify these markings for such markings to be effective or if parents should be held accountable for the safety of their children, who may find and eat a drug-laced brownie or candy bar.
Through the first four months of Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana, hospitals and doctors were already reporting some unintended consequences of the retail sales of edible products. Children’s Hospital Colorado reported treating nine children for ingesting edible marijuana; six of them became critically ill. By comparison, Children’s treated only eight children for ingesting edible marijuana between 2005 and 2013. Although the overall numbers remain low, this is a dramatic increase statistically.
Michael DiStefano, the medical director of the Children’s Hospital Colorado emergency department said,
“It is important to stop it before it becomes a huge problem…”.
Marijuana taken accidentally can be very dangerous and scary to young children; most of the kids brought to the hospital were between the ages of 3 and 7 years old. Children are dependent on their parents or care givers to protect them from harm. Public information and education will help reduce risk of accidental exposure to edible pot.