Half of the states in the U.S. have legalized medical or recreational use of cannabis, but more and more people are switching over to edibles as their consumption method of choice. Of course the ability to medicate by enjoying a delicious treat is always going to be a tempting alternative to smoking, but there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the tasty pot products. Not only do we know much less about how edibles affect the human body than smoking, but they have been consistently blamed for some very unpleasant cases of people accidentally over medicating. Perhaps the most consistent negative stigma surrounding edibles, is the fear that children will try to eat them. While the total number of these cases is still very low, making up for less than 1 percent of poison control cases in Colorado, the number of kids treated since legalization has essentially doubled. This has led to Colorado creating new rules and restrictions regarding edibles that will start in 2017. A new study from Washington has attempted to break down all of the factors that might attract young children to edibles.
The author of this new study is the executive director of the University of Washington’s Cannabis Law and Policy Project, Sam Mendez. He convinced Washington state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board to commission the study. In his research, Mendez identified all of the elements that make food tempting to children. He found that playful shapes are a big factor, which is one of the restrictions that will be taking place starting next year, but smell, color, and taste were also very influential factors. These aspects will remain unregulated in Colorado, but seem to play just as big of a role as the shape of the food. Even more telling, is the fact that his research showed that eliminating just one of those factors isn’t enough to deter children. This is the troubling aspect of the study that has people questioning if Colorado’s new restrictions will be effective. It seems that kids are still going to be interested in brightly covered sweets, whether they come in fun shapes or not. This has led Mendez to conclude that regulations should be multifactored and that the true responsibility has to fall on parents.
If Colorado really wants to limit the production of edibles that appeal to children, they would have to look at each case more situationally. There will always be products that fit the guidelines, which still appeal to young kids. Colorado has taken some extra steps along those lines, such as banning the use of the word “candy” on any edible’s packaging. Before Colorado does anything drastic, like trying to regulate the smell and taste of edibles, we need to see if the new restrictions have any positive effects. With so many different factors involved, it might turn out that the only solution is for parents to take more precautionary methods. Many of the factors that children are attracted to aren’t really surprising, but their lack of dependence on each other is. This is definitely an issue our community needs to address, but don’t let things get out of perspective. Children are still much more likely to be poisoned by other every day household products such as toothpaste or diaper cream, than from cannabis. That doesn’t mean we can ignore the cases we are seeing though, and hopefully studies like this will help us virtually eliminate the problem completely.