DENVER - Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. With the increase in availability, there has also been a rise in accidental cannabis poisonings by children. Every state is going to face this issue sooner or later.
Cookies, candy, and lollipops — they look good, but they are not your typical treats. They are medical marijuana.
Robin Hackett is doing everything she can to keep kids away from these sweets. Keeping them locked in a child-resistant container is the law in Colorado.
"It has a locking mechanism that is difficult for a small child under six years old," said Robin Hackett, co-owner of Botana Care in Northglenn, Colo.
Child-resistant packaging is required by the federal government for most pharmaceuticals and poisonous products, and it's also required for cannabis.
"It would be our advice that all jurisdictions that sell these candies and other edible products be sold with child resistant packaging," said Dr. Michael J. Kosnett, associate professor, pharmacology and toxicology, University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Accidental pot poisonings spiked following an increase in the widespread sale of medical marijuana in Colorado in 2009.
"The majority of those kids actually did get into what we call marijuana edible products — brownies, cookies, candy, and lollipops — and our concern about those was the potentially high amounts of THC, the active ingredient of marijuana," said Dr. George Wang, clinical instructor in pediatrics, Children's Hospital Colorado.
In kids, THC affects the brains control of emotions, thinking, and coordination. Kids are more at risk of using other drugs, having risky sexual behavior, and there's an increased risk of suicide and psychosis.
Hackett takes cannabis security as seriously as caring for her cannabis plants. The plants will be for smoking, but it's the edibles in her shop that would be likely to attract kids. That's why Hackett goes beyond what the law requires.
"We use a special type of packaging for a child from the ages of say six to twelve, thirteen years old," Hackett said.
She uses a locking gun box for teenagers.
"As a parent you know your child. You know what type of security that you would need and the motivation of your child," Hackett explained.
The best advice is to play it safe, even with medical marijuana, and lock it up.
While several states have legalized medical marijuana, it is still illegal at the federal level. And now, for the first time, in Colorado and Washington states, the use of recreational marijuana is legal.
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