Debunking the latest Reefer Madness Scare: Kids getting high on Edibles
On Monday, in the medicinal journal JAMA Pediatrics, a recent study was released to show that despite Colorado’s labeling laws and child protective packaging…there has been an increase in child exposure to cannabis related edibles.
The study showed that kids, 9 or younger, have seen a spike in ER visits since Colorado legalized cannabis in 2014. By the way, so have Colorado tourist ER visits due to medical marijuana. See our article here.
“We were expecting an increase,” said Dr. Sam Wang, the study’s lead author. “As far as the poison center, we were a little surprised at the amount of the increase.”
During 2015, there were only sixteen cases of accidental consumption of cannabis infused edibles for kids nine and younger. While this is an increase from previous years, the number is still incredibly low and I’ll show you exactly why in a bit.
The point here folks, is that this study got national attention and will most probably be ammo for the anti-cannabis movement to depict that “legalizing marijuana is bad for kids”. Any news can be construed as “bad” under the right circumstances, however, when you establish a point of reference, the message of the study becomes quite different.
Let’s create a reference point
It’s no secret that people don’t want kids to take drugs; developing brains and such. However, it is also not a secret that kids, especially unattended like to put shit in their mouths. From things on the floor to pills on the table…a toddler explores the world by jamming things down its pie-hole.
This brings us to the reference point.
Did you know that nearly 160 kids a day across the nation are treated for accidental consumption of prescription medication? That’s right. Where cannabis in Colorado saw 16 kids go to the emergency room during the entire 2015, 160 kids will go to the ER for accidental ingestion of a range of pharmaceuticals today. Then another 160 will go to the ER tomorrow and so on.
Here's some more facts from asthealth.org
- Medications are the leading cause of child poisoning today.
- Each year, more than 500,000 children under the age of five experience a potential poisoning related to medications.
- More than 60,000 children are treated in emergency departments due to accidental unsupervised ingestions each year.
- Currently, more children are brought to emergency departments for medication poisonings than for motor vehicle occupant injuries.
- Among young children, one of every 150 two-year-olds is being seen in the emergency department for medication-related poisoning.
- From 1979 to 2006, the poisoning death rate was cut in half, declining from 0.35 to 0.17 per 100,000 children. Yet, among all child poisoning deaths the number attributable to medications increased from 36 percent to 64 percent.
Placing the “accidental consumption” rhetoric into perspective and comparing it with other medications, you see that the “epidemic” in Colorado is really not an epidemic at all. Rather, it is only gaining national attention because the drug in question is cannabis. However, we don’t see the same rage when it comes to Percocet or something of the sorts.
The difference between cannabis and these other drugs is that the LD-50 of Cannabis is set at 1:20,000 and 1:40,000 meaning that you’d need to ingest roughly 1500 lbs. of cannabis in about 15 minutes to induce a fatal dose. The same cannot be said of all the other medications out there.
While it’s true that cannabis edibles are indistinguishable from normal edibles once out of the packaging, the fact of the matter is that your kid won’t die if he eats a brownie. Sure, they might not have a good experience…but there will be no long term side-effects from eating a cannabis laced brownie.
Laws are already in place
Colorado has already increased their security in terms of edibles. Proper labeling, child proof packaging and so forth helps in this endeavor. However, this will never be able to completely stop kids from accidentally ingesting medications. No matter what they do, there will be a bright eyed toddler figuring a way to open a marijuana edible and will eat it.
Colorado’s accidental cannabis consumption problems, when compared with the nation’s accidental medication consumption problems is virtually non-existent. We’re talking about .02% of kids accidentally consumed cannabis compared to other medications.
Is this really something that demands national attention? Shouldn’t we rather be looking at the problem of “too many pharmaceuticals”?
The point here folks is that whenever you are reading a negative perspective on cannabis, you should always look at the sources and compare it to “other substances” in order to gain real insight about the issue. The accidental cannabis consumption scare could be seen as just the latest attempt from the prohibition crowd to create doubt in the mind of the nation when it comes to legalization.