Oh, Halloween, the time for those little ghouls and goblins (commonly referred to as children) to get high on sugar–not on THC! But as spooky season nears, a crucial conversation surrounding edibles and child safety also must come to the forefront.
For the long-time cannabis consumer, it might seem like yesterday when some of the only options individuals had were to rely on growing cannabis oneself, or reaching out to that local dealer who always seemed to have a steady supply. However, as the cannabis industry has grown and blossomed over the past decades, the ease and creativity of ingesting cannabis has swelled with it. Global cannabis sales doubling by 2025 go hand-in-hand with the growth of THC-infused drinks, foods, and candies. Concerns have been growing in the past years about how new THC-infused products could make their way into the hands of children. As Halloween approaches, a holiday which is now synonymous with children eagerly grabbing as much candy as they can, it is important to be mindful that often they cannot tell the difference between edibles and their favorite sweet treat.
The recent news of an elementary school teacher who was arrested in South Carolina has brought a very real and serious concern to light. Victoria Farish Weiss lost her job and now faces criminal charges because one of her students pulled a pack of edible gummies from a prize box in her classroom. The packaging for those edibles, “Stony Patch Kids,” was so similar to that of “Sour Patch Kids” that the child could not tell the difference. A further search found multiple packs of the edible gummies in Ms. Weiss’s home. Perhaps the teacher did not take her students’ safety into account, or perhaps the packaging fooled even her. Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that vigilance is required. When an adult is trusted with the care of a child, that child’s safety is of the utmost importance. Just as a teacher would not bring a flask into the classroom, the same standard has to apply to THC products.
According to a study by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of children under 12 who ingested edibles and the number of them that needed medical intervention has been rapidly on the rise. And while most new products that add flavor and aroma to the cannabis experience often provide something new and exciting for adults, they are often indistinguishable from candy and snacks for children. Health officials in some states have issued warnings to parents to check their children’s Halloween candy for THC-infused products.
It’s not all bad news as spooky season approaches, though! As cases like the one in South Carolina rise, it provides a valuable teaching moment for adults with children who enjoy their edibles. Tamper-proof packaging is required by the FDA and most states require child-resistant packaging for most (if not all) of their cannabis products. In addition to this, most brands and edible dispensaries offer child-resistant packaging to store edibles in at home. It is also recommended to not consume candy-like THC gummies in front of children, as this can pique their interest in the sweet treat you’re keeping all to yourself. Another step adults can take is to store their edibles in a secure location, out of reach and sight from their children. Cases like the ones in South Carolina, though terrifying for parents who trust schools to protect their children, are rare. It is much more often that children come into contact with these edibles at home. Taking the simple steps outlined above will help make sure children are protected until they are of legal age.
This Halloween can be a fun and memorable one, filled with costumes, laughter, and trick-or-treating. Everyone can participate in a wonderful and safe holiday. Once the children are sleeping after a sugar-filled night, it is safe for the adults to bring out their own treats. Happy Halloween!