SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KNX) - Concerns are rising about the increase in young children who are accidentally consuming edible cannabis products, leading a state lawmaker to propose changes in how the drug is packaged.
Since cannabis was legalized seven years ago, pediatric physicians have seen a spike in accidental cannabis overdoses in children. In 2018, there were 330 calls to California Poison Control for cannabis exposure in children under six years old. In 2021, the number of calls more than doubled to 791.
Dr. Natalie Laub, a pediatrician at the University of California, San Diego, says some of the children affected are only two to three years old.
“The majority of children who are eating cannabis products are toddlers. They’re not eating it because they’re looking for it, they’re eating it because they’re confusing it with common household foods and items and candy,” she said.
Earlier this year, Thousand Oaks Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin submitted a measure to the California state assembly that would address what she says is the root cause of the poisonings: packaging that makes cannabis products look like child-friendly candy or snacks.
The bill, AB 1207, would prevent companies from using packaging and advertising that includes cartoon characters or the word “candy.” It would also ban flavoring in smokable or vaping cannabis.
“We cannot continue to allow California’s legal cannabis market to manufacture, package, and advertise products with features that are attractive to children,” Irwin said.
The bill is currently being considered in the appropriations committee. If passed, it contains an urgency clause that would direct the Department of Cannabis Control to implement changes on an emergency basis.