CNN recently put out another article on the dangers of cannabis and children. Make no mistake, except for specific medical treatments, children should not ingest cannabis. But what is the real lesson behind the latest news? Here’s the breakdown.
Increase in hospitalized children
According to CNN, France is seeing dramatic increases in children under six years of age hospitalized. From 2004 to 2014, emergency room visits for ingestion of cannabis rose 133%. The posited reasons include increases in the potency available, moving from 9% average in 2004 to 20% average in 2014.
It notes, however, that the most prevalent form of cannabis in France is hashish, not the flowering plant. Hash, the sticky resin of the flowers containing the highest concentration of THC, can range from 60% to 90% THC by weight. Eating a marble sized piece of this would put the strongest man on his knees, let alone a child.
Tragically, the French study says 32 children went into comas for an unspecified length of time. In the US, increases in reported calls to poison control and emergency visits are also on the rise.
For those supporting cannabis, these accidents stand as glaring examples that not everyone consumes responsibly. Those few make the fight that much harder for the majority.
Kids get into everything
While the concerns over kids and cannabis are valid, it isn’t the product itself causing the danger. Across the globe, young children end up in emergency rooms for ingesting just about anything.
From brightly colored laundry soap pods to small toys, if it fits, they can and do try to eat it. If they see adults eating or using something, the danger is even higher they will try to mimic what they see.
Cannabis, along with other adults only substances like alcohol, tobacco, or prescription pills, see the most instances, for that very reason. In the US, concerns over edibles became so prevalent that laws changed in states like Colorado to prevent infused candies from appearing identical to normal ones, and packaging to carry better warning labels.
Of course, for children who can’t yet read, there is only one safe way to prevent ingestion. Keep it put away, people.
Concerning product versus parents
From bleach to prescription bottles, child-proof caps have become the norm to prevent accidents. The average household contains over a dozen deadly situations for children, including cleaning chemicals, medications, alcohol, guns, electricity, water, sharp objects, tobacco, glass containers, plastic bags, and more.
Adults put plug protectors on outlets, baby bumpers on sharp corners, and child locks on cabinets. But that does no good if the hazards are left out in the open. While virtually all prescriptions come in hard to open containers, cannabis often comes in many forms and packages. Most have little or any protections for getting them open.
As cannabis consumption becomes destigmatized and more widespread, the burden of safety rests squarely on the shoulders of parents. Here are some simple ways to enjoy cannabis responsibly while keeping kids safe.
Store your cannabis safely
- Educate children on the dangers of ingesting substances meant only for adults. Books for talking to children about cannabis are out there, helping them get the picture without having to get the science.
- Keep cannabis and all medications out of the reach of children. Treat it like any other medicine, and put it away.
- Guns get gun cabinets, medicines get childproof caps. Put your cannabis and accessories in a secure container as well. Kids get into places, so out of reach isn’t enough.
It isn’t the increase in use causing these accidents. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of those leaving it in areas kids can reach. In order to push for legal, responsible use, we need to encourage everyone to not just consume responsibly but secure it safely as well.