Protecting Kids from Cannabis

How To Keep Marijuana Away From Children

As the prevalence of recreational and medical marijuana has been growing in America so have the number of cases of children being rushed to the emergency room as a result of consuming marijuana — most often because the child believed the medicine was candy.

How to lock down your weed. In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • Some of the ways that parents can keep their kids safely away from their stash.

  • How to tell when they’ve gotten into it.

  • What to do when it happens.

Adults Be Aware...

You might think that keeping children safe from medical marijuana and cannabis-infused products would be a “no-brainer.” However, the number of cases of children (and also pets) who have accidentally consumed medical marijuana is rising fast. 

A wave of cannabis policy reform is rolling across America. More than two-thirds of U.S. states now have legalized marijuana in some form for medical use. Also, about one-third of those states have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use. And even in states without legal marijuana, the drug is becoming easier and easier to purchase. 

Sadly, along with the rise in the prevalence of marijuana and other cannabis-infused products, the number of children accidentally consuming these products is also on the rise. 

How bad is the problem?

BMJ medical journals reported on a study of the prevalence of cannabis in homes with children ages 1–14 in Colorado. The study was conducted over the course of three years from 2014 to 2017. 

Out of 80,000 households that participated in the survey, just under one in ten parents (or caregivers) reported having marijuana in their home. The prevalence actually increased rapidly over the course of the study. And it should be assumed that many parents might be hesitant to admit to having marijuana in their home. 

Although about nine out of ten adults who admitted to having cannabis in the home reported that the drug was stored safely out of reach of children, only seven in ten claimed to keep their drugs in a securely locked container, cabinet, or drawer. 

Interestingly, households with higher education levels turned out to be less likely to store their drugs in a locked container or hidden away, (This might be because many educated adults know that cannabis — unlike alcohol, tobacco, and many prescription drugs — is non-toxic.)

This problem doesn’t only apply to homes with kids. Oftentimes it’s someone else’s kids (or pets) who discover and consume what looks like a treat. And even if the products do not look like candy or cookies, older kids who know very well what they’re looking at might be tempted to steal a bud or some cannabis concentrates for experimental purposes. 

Moreover, exposing someone else’s children to any prescription medication or controlled substance can potentially result in criminal charges and/or costly financial liability. 

What’s being done to prevent the problem?

Although most states including Florida, Illinois & Texas require dispensary menu products to be sold in child-resistant packaging, child-resistant is not the same as child-proof. Moreover, many cannabis users will remove the products from their original packaging. And furthermore, products purchased illicitly rarely come in child-resistant packaging but rather are often sold in only a baggie, vile, or jar. 

Many states with legal cannabis invest some of the tax revenue into public education programs designed to encourage adults to keep their drugs safely tucked away. However, these programs don’t appear to have a widespread effect.

The most effective way to prevent the accidental use of marijuana by children is for popular media channels to offer to the public educational content covering the problem and solutions 

Recommendations for Protecting children from marijuana

Let’s face it. Kids can be sneaky. While most are taught to ask for permission to eat things like candy and cookies, very few can be trusted to not do so behind their parents’ or guardians’ backs. 

Here are some specific tips for keeping marijuana — or any dangerous drug or chemical, for that matter — safely away from children. 

  • Avoid cannabis-infused candies and baked goods if possible. When children see colorful candy-like products; chocolates, gummies, cookies, brownies, and so on, most will automatically assume that they are “goodies” and possibly be tempted to eat them on the spot. For parents who choose to use edibles, it’s highly recommended to use products that look more like medicine than candy or other goodies.

  • Keep it high. (No pun intended.) It’s always best to keep marijuana products up high and out of sight and out of reach of children. The coffee table, countertop, or medicine cabinet are not good places to keep drugs if there are children in the home. 

  • Keep it safe. You don’t need a vault to stow away your cannabis, however, keeping your meds in some type of locked box or cabinet is highly advised as children are famous for getting into places they’re not supposed to get into. Make sure the keys or combinations are secure as well. It’s also a good idea to keep cannabis products in a lockbox while traveling. 

  • Put it away, now! After using marijuana or any cannabis-infused products, they should immediately be put back into safe storage. Every time. Especially if the user expects to be intoxicated after use!

  • Check with guests. Parents should make sure that anyone that enters their home is not carrying marijuana or cannabis-infused edibles. It’s possible that children will either rummage through their belongings or that the drugs could be inadvertently dropped and picked up by kids. 

How to tell, and what to do if a child has taken your marijuana

Although severe cases with life-threatening consequences are extremely rare, finding a child in a state of intoxication can be a scary (and often costly) event for many parents. So it’s important to know the signs that a child has accidentally consumed marijuana products (or anything toxic) and what course of action should be taken.  

It’s generally not difficult to tell when a young child has consumed cannabis. This is because even small amounts of THC (the intoxicating compound in marijuana) can have big effects on a little body with no prior tolerance buildup. Furthermore, CBD and other non-intoxicating cannabinoids can also affect children adversely.  

 Signs that a child has accidentally consumed cannabis:

  • Impaired balance and motor skills

  • Dizziness, faintness, shaking

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Hysteria, frenzy, panic, or giddiness

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Red eyes or dry mouth

  • Unconsciousness

If a child is experiencing any of these symptoms, a local or national Poison Help Center should also be called immediately. The child should also be examined by a medical professional as quickly as possible. The healthcare provider should be informed of any marijuana products, medicines, or toxic substances to which the child might have had access.

Talk to your children about marijuana and other drugs 

One final piece of advice: Parents and caregivers should make time to discuss medicine safety with kids and to make it clear that, even though medicine is used to help sick people, many drugs are potentially harmful and even poisonous to healthy people. And make it clear that drugs aren’t just made into pills and syrups. They also sometimes take the form of candy or baked goods. 

Kids should be taught that all candy and other goodies should be considered to be a drug unless otherwise expressly informed by an adult. 

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National Poison Help Center

The national Poison Help Center number is 800-222-1222. All parents should keep this number or a local poison helpline stored in their phone or posted in a prominent location in case of emergency. 

Sources and additional reading

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