The failure of product safety laws to catch up with legal marijuana is threatening the health of children, a new study warns.
More kids are being treated for accidentally ingesting marijuana now than ever before, according to Dr. George Sam Wang, who teaches pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Denver. And a lack of industry oversight is to blame.
“As more states decriminalize marijuana, lawmakers should consider requirements – such as child-resistant packaging, warning labels and public education – to reduce the likelihood of ingestion by young children,” explains the doctor.
In a study published this month, Dr. Wang and his colleagues identified a significant increase in the volume of marijuana-related calls to U.S. poison centers between 2005-2011.
None of the cases were fatal, and they often resolved themselves in less than 24 hours. However, children that accidentally ate marijuana – usually in the form of cookies, candies, or chocolates – showed symptoms of sleepiness and disorientation.
The study also found a clear link between the rise in marijuana poisonings and marijuana legalization in certain states. The problem is, with federal organizations unwilling to address legal marijuana, businesses in these states often have few safety guidelines to follow.
So far, Colorado is the only state with comprehensive regulations covering child-resistant packaging, warning labels and mandatory lab testing.
But the rules are only coming into effect this year, despite the fact that medical marijuana has flourished in the state since 2009.
Dr. Wang’s paper points to a federal law enacted in 1970 that forced businesses to use child-resistant packaging for toxic household products and prescription drugs. After this, accidental poisonings in children declined dramatically.
Similar rules could be applied to the marijuana industry too.
“Pediatricians, toxicologists and emergency physicians need to be willing to advocate for the safety of children to lawmakers as this burgeoning industry expands across the U.S.,” concludes Dr. Wang.