Nation & World

Editorial: Adults must do better keeping cannabis edibles from children

An increase in accidental poisoning reports to the Washington Poison Control Center show adults need to work harder to keep marijuana products away from small children.

Among children 5 and younger, the Poison Control Center saw a dramatic increase in accidental exposure from 52 in 2016 to 82 in 2017. The statewide numbers also have risen dramatically in the 6- to 12-year-old group, and most of the accidental exposures involved edible cannabis products.

Adults who leave marijuana products within reach of children and toddlers are mostly to blame for this problem. Pot should be kept out of reach of small hands.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board is smart to take another look at these edible products to make sure they are not being sold in a form too closely resembling candy or other treats. State law prohibits any marijuana product that would be especially appealing to children and youth. Edibles only make up about 9 percent of the marijuana market, but there are 2,000 of these products being sold in Washington right now.

The state board will be reviewing the packaging of all edibles over the next few months to judge. Regulators are looking for any that are too brightly colored or resemble candy, like bright chewy Starburst-lookalikes or playful gummy bears.

The cannabis industry wants to protect children too. Industry groups, including The Washington Cannabusiness Association, committed in a letter to the state board to continue self-regulation to develop and package products for adult use that are uninviting to children.

But the industry is also worried state regulators in the Liquor and Cannabis Board will ban all edibles if a few products are too appealing to kids.

Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington Cannabusiness Association, says the entire industry wants to partner with the Liquor and Cannabis Board to strengthen and clarify state regulations about edibles to improve safety and prevent an all-out ban. She says they are willing to follow the rules, but they need more specifics about what is allowed and what isn’t.

That sounds like a very adult approach to improvement in this young industry.

And Christophersen says cannabis producers, processors, retailers, etc., would also like to see the Legislature fulfill its promise to use marijuana tax income to improve education, prevention and addiction treatment.

Adults who want their legal marijuana in an edible form should be able to buy it at their local pot store in a form that doesn’t look like Halloween candy. But when they bring it home, they still need to keep it out of reach from children.

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