Our View: Keeping pot away from kids
March 25, 2014
As Colorado's new recreational marijuana industry evolves, changes in how pot businesses operate and how they're regulated are inevitable. Last week, Gov. John Hickenlooper enacted one of those changes by signing into law House Bill 1122, which requires edible marijuana products sold for medicinal purposes to be packaged in the same way as edibles sold for recreational use.
Under the new law, edible marijuana products sold to medical marijuana patients must be placed in opaque, child-proof packaging, which already is the case for recreational marijuana. Specifically, these products must be placed in "an opaque and resealable package or container at the point of sale prior to exiting the store." Opaque means the packaging does not allow the product to be seen without opening the packaging material.
According to lawmakers who championed the new legislation, it is aimed at keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, and we wholeheartedly support any efforts to reduce children's access to pot products. At the bill signing, Hickenlooper stated, "Marijuana should not be easily accessible or attractive to kids."
The newspaper has not reported on any incidents in which young children have discovered edible marijuana and ingested it, but the Steamboat Today did publish a story earlier this month about an 18-year-old who reportedly ate a marijuana-infused candy bar he found in a motel room during work. He was taken to the hospital after becoming incredibly high, and he was treated for what police called an "overdose."
That story highlights the potential problem of edible marijuana products falling into the wrong hands, and the fear that young children in particular will ingest these products, which are manufactured to look just like regular cookies, brownies and lollipops.
The new packaging regulations also seem to be in response to an increase in the demand for edible marijuana products, which has taken local pot shop owners as well as dispensary owners across the state by surprise. In a Jan. 5 editorial, we predicted that edibles would become more popular with marijuana users because there are very few places in Steamboat Springs where people are allowed to actually smoke pot, so we are not surprised at the upswing in marijuana edibles sales.
But as more adults are choosing to eat up rather than light up, there are more edible marijuana products being sold and more opportunity for those products to be ingested by children who could easily mistake them for real brownies or gummy candy.
Although the new law closes a loophole, it does not shut the door on the possibility that kids will still get their hands on edible marijuana products. Once the products leave stores in child-resistant packaging, it is up to the adults who legally purchased the pot to keep it away from children.
Like alcohol or prescription medications, marijuana should be secured in places where curious youngsters cannot get their hands on it and pot products must be kept in child-resistant packaging. Once taken out of the package, it's virtually impossible to distinguish whether it's a plain gummy bear or a marijuana-infused product.
And these edibles are not harmless. They can contain high levels of THC, especially those manufactured for medicinal use. Edible candies can easily contain in excess of 100 mg of THC, which is an extremely potent amount.
In the end, it falls back on a mantra we've repeated in several editorials since recreational pot was legalized in Colorado — strong laws governing the new industry are great but personal responsibility is key for those who choose to consume marijuana.