Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jul 2016
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Post Company


Children's Marijuana-Related Trips to the ER Have Increased in Colorado.

WHEN CHILDREN steal cookies from the cookie jar, they usually suffer 
little more than a scolding. When those cookies contain cannabis, 
it's a different story: According to a study published Monday, 
exposure to marijuana among children in Colorado has increased in the 
two years since the state began selling the drug legally - and so 
have the emergency-room visits that follow.

Colorado gave the green light to medical marijuana in 2000. In 2012, 
the state sanctioned recreational use, and by January 2014, 
dispensary store shelves were stocked with potent products of all 
shapes and sizes. Since then, marijuana-related trips to children's 
care centers have almost doubled, though incidence overall remains 
low. Edibles in particular seem to entice unsuspecting children who 
think they are sneaking everyday snacks, though secondhand smoke is 
also a culprit. After accidental marijuana consumption, most children 
simply become sleepy. In the worst of cases, they can end up with a 
breathing tube.

It's possible that reports have risen in Colorado in part because 
doctors are more aware of the problem and parents less reluctant to 
admit to having marijuana in their homes. But the trend, which holds 
true in states with similar laws, deserves attention - not least 
because it could teach legislators considering decriminalization in 
other localities to exercise caution.

The District is one of those places. In 2014, voters approved an 
initiative to let residents and visitors 21 and older keep and carry 
a limited amount of the drug, as well as grow it at home. But 
Congress - in a display of blatant disregard for self-determination - 
has quashed the city's attempts to move toward a tax-and-regulate 
regime that would allow for the drug's legal purchase and sale. In 
response, some D.C. Council members have displayed a desire to loosen 
restrictions on marijuana even without the ability to control its 
use. A task force is scheduled to release recommendations on allowing 
smoking in private clubs at the end of the summer.

Colorado's case gives the District one more reason to tread carefully 
until it can regulate marijuana in a responsible way. Stores in 
Colorado, for example, adopted child-resistant packaging in 2015. 
This month, a law went into effect barring marijuana-laced 
look-alikes to common children's treats such as gummy bears and other 
sweets in human, animal and fruit shapes. The state has also tried to 
encourage manufacturers to limit product potency, and some local 
lawmakers have proposed a mandatory cap.

Those rules address just one problem associated with legalization. 
But this week's study stresses the need for more research on 
marijuana's effects to know what other issues might arise - and for 
states to sit tight until they understand how to solve them.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom