The Good and Not-So-Good of Cannabis Edibles
Cannabis edibles are pretty awesome – they taste good, work for a long time, and you can enjoy them privately. But, they’re not all sunshine and rainbows, especially when kids get involved. I’m a pediatric pharmacist in a California ER, and I see kids accidentally eating cannabis stuff almost every week. Those yummy gummies and chocolates might make lots of folks happy, but if kids, who are small and don’t know better, get their hands on them, it can turn serious.
More Kids Accidentally Eating Cannabis
Since cannabis became legal, there’s been more cases of kids accidentally eating it. Studies show that when cannabis is legal, more kids end up eating things with THC in them – even when they don’t mean to. This includes both times when it’s on purpose and when it’s not.
Sometimes, older kids or teenagers take too much on purpose and have a really bad reaction, like freaking out, getting really scared, or acting strangely. Other times, it’s the parents who get scared. But when it’s not on purpose, little kids, like toddlers, often get into their family members’ cannabis stuff at home.
Why Packaging Matters So Much
Here’s a snack: infused goodies you can buy online in California. But here’s the thing – in the US, because of the laws, every state has its own rules for how things should be packaged. This leads to problems, like packaging that’s either way too easy to open or way too hard, which can be tricky. Also, some cannabis packaging might look fun to kids because of bright colors and cartoons. Even products that look like regular snacks, like Oreos or Skittles, are a big problem in the illegal cannabis market.
But there’s a bigger problem than just the different state rules. Lots of cannabis products are being sold with zero rules at all. For example, it’s guessed that in California, people are buying more illegal cannabis products than legal ones. And to make it worse, these illegal products don’t have to meet any rules, and they don’t help with taxes for the community. Plus, things like delta-8 THC, a kind of cannabinoid, are sold without regulation. The process to make them isn’t simple, and scientists are worried about the safety of what’s made along the way, including turning CBD into THC.
What About Cannabis Edibles with No Rules?
Check out the labels on different cannabis stuff – they can look totally different. (Picture by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash) There are loads of edibles made outside of the legal cannabis world. They’re sometimes called “trap gummies” and you can find them all over the country. But here’s the thing: we don’t really know if they’re any good. The labels on them might not make sense or could trick you, and they might have a lot of THC – even up to 500mg! In my years working at pediatric hospitals, it’s these illegal products that often land kids in the emergency room. They can be extra risky because the amounts of THC are way higher than what’s allowed in legal cannabis in California (10mg per serving/100mg per package). But even 100mg is too much for a kid. Legal cannabis products can also cause accidental ingestions, though.
What Happens When Kids Accidentally Eat Edibles?
In Canada, a recent study looked into what happened after cannabis edibles were allowed for sale. They found that the number of kids being hospitalized because of accidentally eating them doubled in four years. These kids mostly ended up in the emergency room because of products with THC. While a serious injury from one accidental eating isn’t common, there can be really unpleasant side effects.
Sometimes, kids get so sleepy that they have to stay in the hospital because their breathing or vital signs aren’t okay. Just like when adults eat too much THC, the effects can be different for each person. Kids are smaller, so even a little THC can be super strong. They might throw up, feel super tired, have trouble walking, deal with low blood pressure, breathe slowly, feel confused or agitated, or even have seizures in rare cases.
For a long time, people said no one ever died from too much cannabis. But as more people use it, that’s starting to change. There have been cases of people dying from eating too much cannabis, like a little boy who ate a delta-8 edible and passed away in 2022. We’re not sure about all the details, like how much he ate or if he had other health problems. But stories like this show how important it is to keep cannabis locked away safely.
The good news is, we can solve this. We just need to use smart packaging, like we do with dangerous stuff, prescription meds, and alcohol. Child-resistant packaging and keeping cannabis locked up makes total sense – if kids can’t get to it, they won’t end up in the emergency room.
Child-Proof vs. Child-Resistant: Making Things Safe for Kids
When we say something is “child-proof,” it means no kid could ever get to it. But that’s super tough because kids are really good at getting into stuff. So, what we usually aim for is “child-resistant” packaging. This means the packaging is made in a way that makes it hard for kids under 5 to open quickly. It should still be easy for grown-ups, though.
Child-resistant packaging is designed to slow kids down, not stop them completely. It’s meant to take kids more than 5 minutes to open, but most adults should be able to open it quickly. This kind of packaging has helped lower the number of times kids accidentally eat things they shouldn’t. Still, it’s important to watch over kids and keep things stored safely.
Homemade Edibles and Keeping Kids Safe
When you’re making your own cannabis edibles, you have to be careful about keeping them away from kids. While there are rules about safe packaging in stores, if you’re doing it at home, you’re in charge of making sure kids can’t get to them. It’s usually okay if kids can reach the cannabis before it’s made into edibles (because it’s not harmful then). But if you’re cooking it into things like cookies, they can make kids feel really bad.
In some places, there are rules about making sure packaging is tough for kids to open when things are sold in stores. But when you’re making stuff at home, you need to be responsible for keeping it safe. Eating plain cannabis flower before it’s changed isn’t dangerous for kids (because it won’t make them feel high). However, if you’re making special treats at home, like cookies with cannabis in them, and kids get to them, it could be a problem.
To help people understand this, two companies from Colorado, Wana Brands and Stashlogix, are reminding cannabis users to keep their stuff safe. They suggest four simple things:
- Buy things with packaging that’s hard for kids to open.
- Use a safe container that locks to store your cannabis.
- Keep your cannabis where kids can’t reach.
- Learn more about keeping things safe from a free course.
Skip Stone, the CEO and Founder of Stashlogix, said he started his company to make sure cannabis stuff is stored safely because of his kids. He’s working with Wana Brands to tell people to be careful with their cannabis around kids.
The main idea is to keep your homemade edibles locked up, out of kids’ reach, and make sure they’re labeled right. It’s important to be responsible and look out for your family while still enjoying the good things about cannabis edibles.
Keep your edibles safe by locking them up, putting clear labels on them, and keeping them away from kids.
Kids are curious, and they like sweet things. People who enjoy cannabis edibles like them too. But it’s our responsibility to be wise about where we keep them. So, the key is to lock up your cannabis stuff, make sure it’s labeled, and keep it out of kids’ reach. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying things with safe packaging or using your own storage at home – you’re doing the right thing by keeping your loved ones safe while still enjoying cannabis edibles. Did this information help you?