Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed into law a marijuana safe-packaging bill that enhances protection for kids with respect to marijuana edibles. The new law requires marijuana edibles to be sold in child-resistant, opaque, re-sealable packaging.
Children's Colorado played a major role in crafting and supporting this legislation. Working closely with Rep. Daniel Kagan, Sen. Linda Newell and their colleagues in both chambers, the hospital was pleased to see the unanimous passing of House Bill 1122, Concerning Provisions to Keep Legal Marijuana from Underage Persons.
"The safety of our children must remain a priority in addressing marijuana regulation," said George Sam Wang, MD, who practices pediatric emergency medicine and toxicology at Children's Colorado. "With the increasing availability of marijuana, Children's Colorado is concerned that Colorado hospitals will see a rise in unintentional exposures in children. This new law is a step in the right direction to help protect our most vulnerable citizens."
Accidental exposures of marijuana products to children in Colorado have increased in the past three years, based on the rate of emergency department visits and admissions at Children's Colorado. According to published studies by Dr. Wang, since 2005, states that allow some form of legal marijuana have seen a 30 percent annual increase in calls to poison control centers for marijuana ingestion, relative to a 1 percent increase in non-legal states.
Most of the accidental ingestion incidents in Colorado requiring hospital admission involve young children, especially toddlers. Many of these children are getting into edible products with high concentrations of THC. Symptoms vary anywhere from mild sleepiness, to poor respiratory effort, to coma requiring insertion of a breathing tube.
Proven methods of prevention, such as child-resistant packaging, are currently required for household items like aspirin, Tylenol and even some nutritional supplements.
The new law both strengthens and simplifies the retail and medical laws regulating marijuana packaging, as well as other provisions intended to keep marijuana from kids.
The big loophole in current law, which House Bill 1122 closes, is that an edible medical marijuana product can be sold with a warning label but not in child-resistant packaging. Now that the bill is signed into law, our state's packaging requirements will be stronger and easier for businesses, consumers, parents and law enforcement to understand and follow.