Dangerous Marijuana Edibles Attract Children

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In Colorado and California, deceptive packaging for marijuana makes pot candies enticing to youngsters.  Many edibles look like children’s favorites, such Pop Tarts, Cap’n Crunch, cotton candy, Pixie Sticks and Gummy Bears.  At least 14 children were hospitalized for marijuana poisoning in Colorado last year.

It’s ironic that Kandy Care, in a pink package calls itself medical cannabis and carries a label “not a food.” It looks just like cotton candy.   How many two-, three-, four and five-year olds can read?   

It's deceptive that Kandy Care is labeled medicine. Photo above and below were from Colorado, unless noted otherwise.
It’s deceptive that Kandy Care is labeled medicine. Photo above and below were from Colorado, unless noted otherwise.

It’s ironic that a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado Springs would paint Cookie Monster from Sesame Street on the side of the building.  The marijuana industry says it is not marketing to children, but who else likes bright colors and cartoon characters?

There’s a huge business behind pushing the cookies, candies and edible forms of marijuana, considered to be safer than smoked or vaporized pot, but these products take longer to have an effect and often lead people to ingest larger amounts to get their “high.”

Cookie Monster from Sesame Street appeared on the Wellstone "pharmacy" in Colorado Springs, in February. With objections raised, perhaps from the tv show, the mural was removed.
Cookie Monster from Sesame Street appeared on “pharmacy” in Colorado Springs, in February. With objections raised, perhaps from the tv show, the mural was removed

These products take longer than smoked marijuana to have and effect — which leads people to ingest larger amounts to get their “high.”   Two people died from marijuana edibles, and many Americans read about  Maureen Dowd’s infamous experience.

poptartsHershey’s sued a company whose products had similar names and were indistinguishable from their candies like Almond Joy, Heath Bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.  It settled out of court.
Capn Chronic

Two Deaths Provoke Legislative Change

The Colorado Assembly took action after two marijuana deaths in the state related to the edibles.  In March, 2014, a 19-year old exchange student jumped four stories to his death after eating a marijuana cookie. In April, a 47-year old man shot and killed his wife while “totally hallucinating” after eating marijuana candy, as the wife had described in the 9-1-1 call. The couples’ three children, who lived through that event, have technically lost both their parents and the father has been charged with murder.

pot headsSmart Colorado, a non-profit formed to keep marijuana away from children put up billboards to warn of marijuana candies that cannot be distinguished from the regular candies.  Thanks to the work and dedication of the group, there were no poisonings in Colorado on Halloween.

However,  marijuana-laced Halloween candy was sent to Maryland and intercepted right before Halloween.   Candy came from four manufacturers, but each was laced with 100 mg. THC.   Pot candy from Colorado has turned up in other states, such as Wisconsin and New Jersey.

Marijuana Poisonings Spiral Out of Control

According to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, twenty-seven people had reported poisonings from marijuana edibles by early May of this year.  Nine were children who swallowed innocent-looking edibles, most of which were in plain view or the refrigerator.

pot candiesThe increase in hospitalizations linked to traditional pot began about 5 years ago, when medical marijuana expanded exponentially in Colorado due to supposedly relaxed regulation.  Around that time, doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado noticed kids were coming into the emergency room after accidentally ingesting marijuana.  To find out if new policy affected this problem, medical professionals analyzed emergency room visits for kids under 12 who ingested or were poisoned by marijuana between 2005 to 2011.pot drinks

Marijuana-laced peanut butter cups imitate a candy made by Reese.  Photo courtesy of smartcolorado.org
Marijuana-laced peanut butter cups pack 10 servings into one inch.

From Jan. 2005 through Sept. 2009, there were no marijuana-related visits among the 790 emergency pediatric patients, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics.  However, the marijuana business picked up in 2009.  Between Oct. 2009 to Dec. 2011, however, 14 of 588 children were seen for marijuana exposure — 8 involving medical marijuana and 7 from food containing the drug.

Parents weren’t quick to admit or didn’t know that their child had gotten into their marijuana stash.  One child had an unnecessary lumbar puncture and another underwent a CT scan while doctors tried to pinpoint the cause of the problems.  In several cases, the marijuana belonged to grandparents. Young children who are exposed to high levels of THC can hallucinate, be difficult to arouse and have trouble breathing.

Candy in itself is a problem to keep away from kids. No matter how much parents try to keep sweet foods away from children, they will want them.  The marijuana industry knows this and has targeted children, since adults are not really attracted to the same bright colors.  It is only lip service that the industry practice in trying to keep pot away from children.  They know clients will come if they get them addicted young.

California “Medical” Marijuana Promotes Dangerous Edibles

There have been huge problems with edibles in California, where  medical marijuana is plentiful despite the state’s voters rejecting legalization in 2010.  A 21-month old baby girl was taken to the emergency room after going listless, apparently from picking up someone’s discarded marijuana candy on the beach.

The Venice Candy Co. sells many varieties of the 420 bar and sells them on their website. Recreational marijuana is not legal in California.
Venice Candy Co., California sells many varieties of the 420 bar and sells them on their website.

In California — where recreational marijuana is not legal — it’s the liberal allowance for “medical” marijuana in California creates the problem.   Any 18-21 can get a medical marijuana card, and many in this young age group turn around and sell or give to younger children.

An east coast mother recounts a frightening story when her son went to California for the summer.  A roommate left a 420 chocolate bar in the refrigerator.  Her son ate it, became psychotic, had to be hospitalized and went into a suicide watch.   It was 6 servings!

Aunties Edibles
In February, 2014, a store clerk passed these “ginger snaps” onto unsuspecting children in Vallejo, CA; the two cookies were shared by 4 children who became sick and were hospitalized.

In Vallejo, California, four fifth graders became sick and were taken to the hospital.  It turned out that the students had bought cookies at a convenience store across the street from the school without knowing they were laced with marijuana.  How would the children have known when they looked like yummy chocolate-chip cookies? A similar incident happened in Marin County, in June, 2013.

These instances are a few of many examples.  It’s not valid to blame the parents when the lack of regulation on packaging and distribution allows the products to dupe people.  A law passed in Colorado requires that the marijuana labels be stamped and labeled both in and out of packaging.  However, the legislature struggles to pass laws, because the marijuana industry is all over the committee every time it meets.

Stop Pot is a non-partisan grassroots campaign started by citizens concerned about the damaging health effects, both physical and mental, of marijuana. We are also concerned about the impact of marijuana on the environment.

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