Marijuana use is moving into the mainstream, and it’s happening quickly.
Five years ago, recreational use was illegal throughout the United States. As of 2017, eight states and Washington, D.C. allow people to smoke or consume cannabis without a doctor’s note. Partly due to California’s large population, one out of every five Americans now lives in a state where recreational use of marijuana is allowed.
29 states have legalized medical marijuana. A few potential uses for cannabis as a medication include a replacement for pharmaceutical drugs, war veterans use it to deal with post-traumatic stress, and those with insomnia take it as a sleep aid.
As the cannabis industry rapidly expands, it’s important to consider how we can keep kids safe, no matter what your opinion of the subject may be.
Parenting and Pot: Both Sides of the Story
Yes, there are moms and dads who smoke weed, and you’ll find plenty of stories about that online. You’ll also find parents who do not support legalization and voice concerns about the impact it could have on society, including the health and safety of children.
A 2017 Yahoo/Marist survey, dubbed Weed and the American Family, found more than half of adult Americans admit to trying marijuana. Of that number, 65 percent are parents. Now that it has become less taboo, more parents are comfortable publicly admitting use. As one example, the Facebook group, Moms for Marijuana, has more than half a million members.
Watch a Video Preview of the Yahoo/Marist Survey
Parents who use cannabis often compare it to parents who drink alcohol.
“Marijuana parents aren’t perfect, but they’re far less imperfect than parents who use alcohol irresponsibly,” said Dian Fornbacher of the pot legalization group, NORML, in an interview with TODAY Moms.
A marijuana using mother who was interviewed for the TODAY Moms story said she does not appreciate “being judged for doing something nontoxic and totally organic … by moms who suck back two bottles of Chardonnay like sports drinks.” There are even some who go as far as saying marijuana makes them better parents.
The group Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM) has another point-of-view. It points to a variety of potential health concerns, developmental delays, potential harm to a fetus, mental health issues, and the risk of traffic accidents as reasons to support federal laws classifying cannabis as a Schedule I drug.
CALM posted a video on its website from Aubree Adams, a Colorado mother who pleads with Governor Phil Scott of Vermont to stop efforts by state lawmakers to legalize cannabis. Scott had already vetoed previous legalization legislation earlier in 2017.
“Please, Vermont’s children are at risk. There are enough problems with alcohol and you don’t want to add fuel to the fire,” Adams states in her video.
Adams is part of an organization called Moms Strong, which opposes marijuana legalization. Mothers who founded the group say the drug played a role in the suicides of their adult sons.
Marijuana and Child Safety
Nearly everyone can agree that, unless it is for a specific medical purpose, children should not use cannabis. Research indicates exposure to THC, the active chemical in marijuana, could be detrimental to a child’s brain development.
While the Yahoo/Marist survey showed growing support for medical and recreational marijuana, it also found that respondents were less likely to approve of parents who openly used the drug in front of children. 79 percent said they would lose respect for a parent who consumed cannabis around their kids.
Even notable proponents of legalization say there should be boundaries that keep kids safe when marijuana is used in the home. Kathryn VanEaton runs the website StonerMom.com, which includes videos, podcasts, and blog posts for parents who smoke pot. In one article, she outlines eight steps for responsible marijuana use for parents. It includes guidelines such as:
- Avoid using in front of kids.
- One parent at a time.
- Don’t drive when high.
- Keep your home clean.
- Keep your stash inaccessible to children.
Keeping a product like marijuana away from kids is an obvious, but essential, step in child safety. However, as marijuana legalization becomes more widespread, cases of children accessing the drug are bound to increase. Colorado has had legalized cannabis longer than any other state, and health officials from Children’s Hospital say accidental exposure is a growing concern.
“While the total number of children admitted to the Children’s Colorado emergency department is low, especially relative to accidental ingestions of household products, it suggests an increase since 2005 in the risk of childhood exposure to marijuana products.”
There were zero accidental pediatric exposures to marijuana reported in Colorado between 2005 and 2009. However, between 2009 and 2015, Poison Control documented 163 pediatric cases including 81 patients treated at the hospital. That’s according to an article in the New York Times.
In many accidental exposure situations, children are consuming edible marijuana products. These can include baked goods such as cookies and brownies as well as candy, all things that look appetizing to young children who don’t realize what it actually is.
A Bloomberg report estimates that revenue from edibles makes up at least half of the marijuana market, and sales are expected to increase. As more products enter the market, it becomes more important to find ways to make sure children are safe.
The Crucial Role of Child-Resistant Packaging
There are safety caps for pill bottles, locks on liquor cabinets, and parents baby proof entire homes for toddlers. How are we keeping young children from accessing marijuana products?
Packaging is one of the first lines of defense in child safety. Warning labels on a package serve as a reminder to parents that the product poses a risk. Many states require that edible marijuana packaging be opaque so children can’t see the product. There are also rules against using imagery that would draw children to a marijuana products, such as cartoon characters.
However, experts agree, child-resistant packaging is what’s truly needed to keep kids safe. According to Children’s Hospital …
“For decades, child-resistant packaging has been a proven method for keeping kids out of unsafe products.”
Child-safety caps are often used for cannabis packaged in rigid canisters. However, a growing number of marijuana products are making use of flexible packaging options. Things such as resealable stand-up pouches make a lot of sense for edible products like marijuana-infused gummies or cookies. But, how do you keep kids from getting inside the package?
Questions like that are the reason Fresh-Lock® Slider Zipper developed Child-Guard®, a child-resistant closure designed for use on resealable flexible packaging.
When properly closed, the Child-Guard® slider requires additional dexterity to open. Fresh-Lock® Slider Zipper put this innovation through all the proper testing procedures to ensure it provides effective child-resistance when combined with materials that prevent tearing and puncturing.
Child-Guard® was initially created for the laundry market. You’ll see it used on flexible packaging for popular laundry detergent packets. However, there are many other potential uses for this child-resistant solution, including pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, lawn and garden chemicals, and more.
Fresh-Lock® wants to encourage those in the cannabis industry to act with responsibility and accountability. That means putting products like marijuana edibles in child-resistant packaging. There are already companies using this closure in the marijuana market. Those who are consumers of cannabis can look for it in dispensaries and choose products that make child safety a priority.
No matter how you feel about marijuana legalization, you can you raise your voice when it comes to the safety of children. Use the hashtag #guardit on social media and tell others why you believe child-resistant packaging is important for marijuana and other products that pose a safety risk.
Get more insights on legal cannabis and packaging when you view a special Q&A in Healthcare Packaging magazine.
Watch and share the video below to learn more about Child-Guard®.