SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Some public health groups and the California PTA say cannabis packaging might be too appealing to children.
It’s why one California lawmaker wants to end the practice of selling cannabis with packaging that makes it look like candy.
“Poison control centers calls due to pediatric cannabis exposures have skyrocketed since 2016,” said Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin.
California Poison Control saw 200 reports of cannabis ingestion in 2010. In 2020, the number jumped to over 1,600.
“The average age of a child who ingests cannabis that's included in this graph is two years old," said Dr. Natalie Laub, while showing a graph from a San Diego hospital.
Dr. Laub is a director of clinical research at Rady Children’s Hospital. She said most of the time, 67%, the toddlers get into edibles within their own home.
“We are seeing very young children under the age of five developing seizures, they stopped breathing, their heart stops, they need to be admitted to the intensive care unit and some of them even tragically die," said Laub.
Irwin proposed AB 1207 which would ban the production and sale of cannabis products that look like candy, soda and snacks. However, it begs the question as to why this isn't a law already on the books.
“We've run into some problems in the legislature of getting these bills through, because there's big scare tactics that if we do not advertise with cartoon characters and things that are attractive to children, that we will not be able to bring in the revenue that that the cannabis industry has promised,” said Irwin.
Irwin added that there is already existing language in law about attractiveness to children, but it’s not as clearly defined as needed.
She said the Department of Cannabis Control would be doing enforcement on a case by case basis.
Maisha Bahati owns Crystal Nugs in Sacramento. As a legal cannabis shop owner, she said she supports this legislation and said protecting kids should be the top priority.
If kids are more often than not getting into cannabis in their own home, at what point is this the parents responsibility? Dr. Laub said it has to be a multi-effort approach. One of the levels of responsibility should be the industry to not target young children and to make their packaging child proof.
The bill passed the Assembly's Business and Professions Committee by a vote of 13 to 0. Right now, the bill sits in the appropriations committee awaiting a May 18 decision on whether it will move forward to an Assembly floor vote.