The world of cannabis-infused edibles is big, the choice is wide, but it seems that not everyone is happy about such an abundance of different varieties of products.
At least, this is the point of view of Colorado State Representative Dan Pabon, who introduced House Bill 1436, in which he advises to prohibit cannabis-infused gummies shaped like classic candies for children. Pabon is afraid that weed-infused gummy bears send the wrong message to the children about cannabis and may seem too attractive and fun to them. HB1436 does not recommend to ban all kinds of gummies, but only those that have shapes of animals, people, and fruit. "I have a 3-year-old son who likes gummy bears," said Pabon while explaining the reason for creating HB 1436.
At the same time, cannabis-infused gummies shaped like moons, stars, and leafs are still acceptable. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who brought up the issue back in January, compared pot-infused gummy bears to candy cigarettes and said that this kind of sweets can only desensitize children to the danger of marijuana and tobacco.
House Bill 1436 may be seen as an incremental step forward from the HB 1361 and HB 1366, the bills that require that all edible products containing more than 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol should have universal THC warning symbol and a child-resistant packaging.
But can HB 1436 prevent accidental ingestion of cannabis-infused products by children? In his article for Reason, Jacob Sullum notices that this bill is going to eliminate cannabis-infused products that legislators do not favor, but it will not solve the problem.
Though, it is not clear whether the problem really exists. According to the Rocky Mountain Poison Center and Denver Health, there is a relatively small number of incidents with accidental ingesting marijuana edibles by children: there 33 cases were reported in 2015, and none of the children involved got any permanent health damage because of this accidents.
A group of prosecutors has published an open letter where they explain the reasons why sweets with medicinal cannabis should be banned. They believe that the purpose of marijuana-infused sweets is not to help ill patients but to hook up the youth on a drug for the rest of their lives. Attractive shape of cannabis-infused edibles, according to them, is designed to lure kids into buying the drugs, thus filling the pockets of greedy capitalists.
Of course, no one wants children to eat cannabis-infused sweets, but some experts doubt whether this bill is about protecting kids or is it just capitalizing on this topic as an effective scare tactic in order to block medicinal marijuana laws.
On May, a draft federal discussion paper on pot legalization in Canada claimed that bite-sized marijuana edibles are a “significant risk” to kids. This elevated the concern of many parents, and a THC gummy bear became the symbol of all the arguments against the cannabis legalization.
Some pot activists believe that all these bills and regulations are designed to overturn Colorado's Amendment 64, that officially legalized cannabis use for adults over 21 years of age.
Jaime Lewis, a founder of the Cannabis Business Alliance, says that new regulations appear one after another in order to crush the industry; they appear before it is possible to understand the consequences of the previous regulations and to see whether they are going to work.
One of the previous pieces of legislation that requires all cannabis-infused product to be labeled with the THC symbol since October 2016 can already be a solution to this problem. With this label, the confusion about the possible marijuana content in sweets will be eliminated.
Unfortunately, the THC symbol does not help prevent accidental ingestion of marijuana-infused edibles by toddlers. But kids are not the ones who shop at dispensaries. This is up to their parents to make sure that children do not have access to cannabis-infused foods. The only solution is to encourage parental responsibility and oversight.
Probably, education is the only solution and the most effective form of prevention of accidents with kids. Clearly, cannabis candies are designed to appeal to “an adult child in all of us,” but not to kids. The stricter the regulations, the more chances that the industry will go back to the black market.
However, cannabis-related companies are adapting by switching to edibles with shapes other than plants, animals, and humans. Soon, marijuana-infused gummy bear will become extinct in Colorado. So, if you are a fan of THC gummy bears, you had better hurry up to buy some.