Letter to the editor: Accidental cannabis ingestion by children an issue

During the segment of the Feb. 9 selectboard meeting on allowing cannabis retail sales in Middlebury, the possibility of harmful impacts on children was discussed; but one aspect of that issue did not come up. That is the impact on the health of very young children from unintentionally consuming edible cannabis products.

Following the legalization of cannabis sales in Colorado, the number of young children seen in the ER of Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora, for cannabis exposure rose significantly. About half of those cases involved edible products. The median age of patients seen in the ER was 2.4 years. The lower body weight of young children makes them especially vulnerable to the effects of THC. While most of the children went home after a few hours, some of them needed to be admitted to the ICU to receive breathing support. It should be noted that calls to a Regional Poison Center for cannabis exposure also increased sharply. The median age of the children reported in these cases was 2 years old.

The edible forms of cannabis include an array of candies and baked goods — gummies, lollipops, cookies, chocolates etc. — that are inherently very attractive to children. While steps can be taken to put them in child resistant packaging, things can still go wrong; and, based on Colorado’s experience, they probably will at some point here in Vermont.

I am not aware of any other adult consumable product, potentially harmful to children, that is marketed in quantity in a form that is so enticing to them, and I believe that poses a threat to their health and safety. Any regulation on this point apparently can only happen at the state level. My understanding is Middlebury cannot vote “yes” to allow a store to operate in Middlebury, and then prohibit them from selling edibles. By our vote on the Town Meeting Day ballot, we can only indicate whether we want a store selling cannabis products located in our town or not. I plan to vote “no” on the article in question and encourage other voters to do the same.

James Tobin

East Middlebury

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Addison County Independent