The next frontier in protecting children from recreational marijuana in Colorado

The U.S. state of Colorado operationalized the legalization of recreational marijuana at the beginning of this year.  You can now walk into one of 34 marijuana dispensaries in the state and buy a diversity of marijuana products that range from just buds (which you smoke) to all kinds of edible products.  The options go far beyond the pot brownies and cookies that typically first come to mind.  There are marijuana infused juices, gummy candies, lollipops, and the list goes on and on.

A previous blog posting discussed the introduction of child resistant packaging requirements to prevent unintentional marijuana ingestions by young children.  In a nutshell, a group of researchers led by me used the Health Impact Assessment framework to make an evidence-based recommendation to the state to adopt child resistant packaging requirements for all marijuana products.  The state of Colorado ultimately adopted those recommendations.  You can read more about the HIA here…

http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/PublicHealth/research/ResearchProjects/piper/projects/Documents/HIA%20Final%20Report%208.20.2013.pdf

In ongoing efforts to try to protect children from marijuana, there is now an active debate surrounding potential restrictions on what edibles should be infused with marijuana.  A nice overview of some of the considerations appeared in a New York Times article over the weekend.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/us/snacks-laced-with-marijuana-raise-concerns.html?_r=0

This is sure to be an issue in Colorado’s state legislature this year.  There is of course the question of whether marijuana should be legal at all but in Colorado where voters have already decided this issue, one of the many outstanding questions is should certain restrictions be placed on what can be infused with marijuana and if so what should they be?  Are gummy candies somehow worse (inherently more appealing to children) than cookies or brownies?  Should there even be edibles or should there just be pills for those not interested in smoking it?  These are questions that the Colorado State Legislature are sure to have to grapple with and ultimately strike a balance with what the state’s voters have determined is an adult’s decision around recreational marijuana use.

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