Legalizing Marijuana Edibles Would Endanger Children

A study recently published in JAMA Pediatrics Journal shows that reports of accidental marijuana poisoning by young children and toddlers has risen by 150{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} since commercial marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2014. Half of the child-poisoning cases involved the accidental ingestion of marijuana edible products (including brownies, cookies, and candies) that are being marketed and sold in Colorado.
The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts urges the marijuana industry to explain why they would specifically authorize these products in Massachusetts under their 2016 ballot proposal (see story, page 4).
The report studied the number of marijuana poison-control cases for children aged 0-9, and showed a 150{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} increase since 2014. The average stay in the hospital for the children was about 11 hours. Marijuana edibles now account for approximately 50{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of marijuana product sales in Colorado since legalization, and that number is growing.
Under the Massachusetts ballot question, written by the marijuana industry, edible pot products would be specifically authorized under the law. Edible products are such an essential part of the Massachusetts ballot question that the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, in a rare ruling, ordered that the ballot question summary be rewritten to include reference to edibles. In Colorado, the marijuana industry has vigorously fought against marketing restrictions once recreational marijuana was legalized.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the pot-edibles market is dangerous for our kids, and a huge part of the profit model for the marijuana industry. The marijuana industry chose to specifically authorize these dangerous edible products under their proposed law. The marijuana industry put their profits over the interests of Massachusetts families, and we believe the edibles issue alone is a reason to reject this ballot question in Massachusetts.
Among the facts about marijuana edibles:
• There is no limit on the potency of edible products in Colorado, nor are limits written into the proposed law in Massachusetts.
• Edible products have been known to have THC levels (the active ingredient in marijuana) reaching as high as 95{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}. That compares to the THC in current marijuana plants that average 17-18{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} THC, and marijuana THC levels of 3-4{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} that existed back in the 1980s.
• Marijuana-infused products such as gummy bears, candy bars, cookies, and ‘cannabis cola’ are often indistinguishable from traditional products and attractive to children.
• Doctors at Children’s Hospital Denver reported that, after legalization, the ER began treating one to two kids a month for accidental marijuana ingestion, mostly in the form of edibles. Prior to legalization, they reported none. For example, in 2014, a two-year old girl from Longmont, Colo. was sent to the hospital after accidentally eating a marijuana cookie she found in front of her apartment building.
The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts represents a growing coalition of healthcare and community leaders, anti-addiction advocates, educators, business groups, first responders, and families who are opposing this proposed legalization of the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
Among the groups that have already come out in opposition to this initiative include the Mass. Hospital Assoc., the Mass. Medical Society, the Mass. Municipal Assoc., Associated Industries of Mass., the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, the Retailers Assoc. of Mass., the Assoc. of School Superintendents, the Assoc. for Behavioral Healthcare, the National Assoc. of Mental Illness (Massachusetts chapter), Mass. Chiefs of Police, the Mass. Sheriffs Assoc., and all Massachusetts district attorneys.

Nick Bayer is campaign manager of the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, which opposes a 2016 ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

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