Saturday, February 1, 2014

Remember the Joe Camel Controversy?

As much as the anti-tobacco fanaticism used to annoy me, when they expressed concern about cartoon characters like Joe Camel making cigarettes more attractive to children, they had a valid concern.  This article from the February 1, 2014 New York Times reports on a somewhat similar problem with marijuana-laced sweets and children:
One survey has found a small but growing number of children seeking treatment after accidentally consuming marijuana. Fourteen such children visited the emergency department of Children’s Hospital Colorado in the Denver area from October 2009 through December 2011, researchers reported last year in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Before 2009, researchers reported no marijuana exposures.

The research took place after an explosion of medical-marijuana shops in Colorado, but before voters passed measures to legalize the sales and use of recreational marijuana to adults 21 and older. Dr. George Sam Wang, an author of the study and a clinical instructor in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, said he had not seen any additional increases in children’s marijuana exposure since recreational sales began the first of this year.

The children, many of them toddlers, were taken in because they seemed strangely sleepy and disoriented. One had trouble breathing. About half had eaten marijuana cookies, cakes or candies, forms that researchers believed made them more enticing.

“Those edible products are inherently more attractive than what a bud would look like,” Dr. Wang said.
The article explains that Colorado's recreational marijuana law has provisions requiring child-resistant packaging, and prohibiting packaging designed to appeal to children -- but I have yet to see any food item packaged well enough to keep a small child out.  You don't need packaging designed to appeal to children -- the product only has to have sugar in it.

There is an analogy here to the problem of children getting access to guns, of course.  The fact that there are ugly consequences to Colorado's marijuana laws "for the children" (to use the favorite phrase of gun control advocates) is not sufficient justification to repeal them.  But I do want the pot advocates to recognize that making it legal has these risks, instead of trying to portray legalization as a win-win situation.


  1. Obviously, they have to make sure that marijuana looks and tastes like lima beans.

  2. Won't work: my son as a toddler got hold of some Comet sink cleaner, and thought it was worth eating.