Health care providers who work with children and youth – and veterinary health care professionals – are beginning to be concerned about the cannabis industry’s approach to cannabis edibles. As I have written previously, I had hoped that the approach to the legalization of marijuana would be mindful of public health and both provincial and federal governments in Canada have been working very hard to manage this.
Health care providers are also seeking a public health approach to the introduction of cannabis edibles, but this may not be going as smoothly. A concern in jurisdictions where cannabis was legalized earlier than Canada was the increase in emergency room visits of younger children who had ingested a toxic mount of cannabis in edibles such as cookies or candies. The same problem was also noticed in veterinary practices.
For children, it is not surprising that the gummies and sweet treats they might see around their homes would be appealing. Saying “Don’t touch!” has never been effective in keep a child from eating something that looks like a treat for anyone, but these treats can be harmful.
It seems to me that there is a unique opportunity for the food industry, public health experts and marketing experts to work together to develop edibles that are appealing to adults but not to young children. While some of the safety concerns might be addressed with packaging and storage, I suspect that most adults try very hard to hide cannabis edibles away and store them safely. Solutions that focus on childproof and “petproof” packaging and safety concerns would be welcomed in the market, I think, and would address both public health and parents’ concerns.
If the cannabis industry cannot find a way to offset the increased visits to emergency rooms – both human and veterinary – it may be regulated for them. Surely producers are earning enough to invest in the safety of their edible products before regulation must take over.