BOSTON >> A new study published Monday has shown that reports of accidental marijuana poisoning by young children and toddlers has risen by 150 percent since commercial marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2014. Half of the child poisoning cases involved the accidental ingestion of marijuana edible products (including brownies, cookies and candies) that are being marketed and sold in Colorado.
The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts urged the marijuana industry to answer why they would specifically authorize these products in Massachusetts under their 2016 ballot proposal.
The study, conducted by the JAMA Pediatrics Journal, was released Monday and studied the number of marijuana poison-control cases for children aged 0 to 9, and showed the 150 percent increase since 2014. The average stay in the hospital for the children was about 11 hours. Marijuana Edibles now account for approximately 50 percent of marijuana product sales in Colorado since legalization, and that number is growing.
Under the Massachusetts ballot question, written by the Marijuana Industry, edible pot products would be specifically authorized under the law. Edible products are such an essential part of the Massachusetts ballot question that the state's Supreme Judicial Court, in a rare ruling, ordered that the ballot question summary be re-written to include reference to edibles. In Colorado, the marijuana industry has vigorously fought against marketing restrictions once recreational marijuana was legalized.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that the pot edibles market is dangerous for our kids, and a huge part of the profit model for the marijuana industry," Safe and Healthy Massachusetts campaign manager Nick Bayer said. "The marijuana industry chose to specifically authorize these dangerous edible products under their proposed law. The marijuana industry put their profits over the interests of Massachusetts families, and we believe the edibles issue alone is a reason to reject this ballot question in Massachusetts."
Among the facts about marijuana edibles include: There is no limit on the potency of edible products in Colorado, nor are limits written into the proposed law in Massachusetts; edible products have been known to have THC levels reaching as high as 95 percent. That compares to the THC in current marijuana plants that average 17 to 18 percent THC, and marijuana THC levels of 3 to 4 percent that existed back in the 1980s; and marijuana infused products such as gummy bears, candy bars, cookies, and "cannabis cola" are often indistinguishable from traditional products and attractive to children.
Doctors at Children's Hospital Denver reported that, after legalization, the ER began treating one to two kids a month for accidental marijuana ingestion, mostly in the form of edibles. Prior to legalization, they reported none.
For example, in 2014, a 2-year-old girl from Longmont was sent to the hospital after accidentally eating a marijuana cookie she found in front of her apartment building.
Among the groups that have already come out in opposition to this initiative include: the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Association of School Superintendents, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the National Association of Mental Illness (Massachusetts Chapter), the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, and all Massachusetts District Attorneys.
In Massachusetts, a bi-partisan coalition of 119 legislators from every region of the Commonwealth recently voiced their opposition to ballot Question 4 to legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
The elected leaders said allowing the billion-dollar marijuana industry into Massachusetts to market highly potent edible products, particularly during an addiction crisis, is the wrong path for the state. Edibles like this account for 50 percent of the sales in Colorado, and the Massachusetts ballot question specifically authorizes these products and places no potency limit on them.
The Massachusetts ballot question, which was written by and for the Marijuana industry, sets no limits on the number of producers and sellers, allows people to grow tens of thousands of dollars of marijuana at their homes, even over neighbors' objections, and has been shown to dramatically increase impaired driving in other states that have legalized commercial marijuana.
Massachusetts has already taken major steps to address concerns around this issue. Massachusetts has decriminalized the possession of marijuana — people are not being jailed for marijuana use nor are they receiving a criminal record for such activity. Massachusetts also legalized the use of marijuana for health purposes.
The legislators join elected leaders such as Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Attorney General Maura Healey who have come out in opposition to Question 4. The Massachusetts Municipal Association also has opposed this ballot question after a unanimous vote by their board of directors.