ACMT Physicians Advocate for Child-Resistant Packaging for Marijuana Products

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Medical toxicologists in Colorado, in response to the legalization of marijuana, have successfully campaigned for the use of child-resistant packaging for marijuana-infused products.

American College of Medical Toxicology

...marijuana-containing foods are drugs that are capable of producing serious illness in children...

Legislation enacted on May 8, 2013 by the Colorado State Legislature will require child-resistant packaging for all cannabis products legally sold to the general public. The proliferation of marijuana dispensaries in states such as Colorado where marijuana has been made legal for medical use has lead to increased availability of foods that are infused with the active ingredient present in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC. These so-called cannabis ‘edibles’, which may include candies, cookies, and brownies, are particularly attractive to and can cause serious harm when accidentally ingested by children. Recent data from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center (RMPDC) in Denver has shown a significant rise in unintentional pediatric marijuana exposures. Children who ingest marijuana-containing products can have difficulty breathing or become comatose, necessitating hospital admission and intensive medical interventions.

Medical toxicologists in Denver, Colorado actively campaigned for the mandatory use of child-resistant packaging for all marijuana-containing foods after identifying a rise in the number of children with unintended ingestion of marijuana. Dr. George Sam Wang and Dr. Michael Kosnett, both members of the American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT), recently launched an educational campaign to promote awareness of the risks of marijuana exposure to young children and the utility of child-resistant packaging in preventing exposures. As a result of their efforts, the Colorado legislature enacted legislation requiring child-resistant packaging as part of the myriad of regulations that will implement Amendment 64, the November 2012 state constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana use by adults. According to Dr. Wang “Our goal has been to raise awareness among health care providers, public health advocacy groups, and local media that marijuana-containing foods are drugs capable of producing serious illness in children, and deserve the same precautionary measures that are used to prevent accidental exposures to other drugs”.

Dr. Kennon Heard, a medical toxicologist involved with the project, and his colleagues at the RMPDC, presented research at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting this month revealing a rise in the number of unintentional pediatric marijuana exposures reported nationally since 2005. As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, the number of pediatric exposures is likely to increase. The American College of Medical Toxicology commends their members for their successful campaign and fully supports measures to educate the public regarding the risks of accidental pediatric ingestion of cannabis edibles.

ACMT is a professional, nonprofit association of physicians with recognized expertise in medical toxicology. The College is dedicated to advancing the science and practice of medical toxicology through a variety of activities.

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