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Are Edible Gummy Bears Too Dangerous?

Randy Robinson

Where do you draw the line between market demand and public safety?

Washington State almost banned infused gummies last year. The year before that, Colorado banned infused gummies shaped like bears and other cuddly animals. And if regulators in Canada get their way, any edibles that could be “appealing to kids” – whether gummy bears or lollipops – are facing the chopping block.

Are edibles too dangerous for kids? Where should we draw the line between market demand and public safety?

The most recent data suggests that legalization leads to an increase in kids’ visits to the ER after eating too many edibles. However, be wary of media reports detailing increases by percentages. Going from one visit a week to merely two is a 100 percent increase, but it’s only an uptick by a single case.

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Regardless of what fear-mongers would have you believe, kids going to the ER for edibles remains a relatively rare occurrence. And in most cases, the children are perfectly fine once the THC wears off. While medical literature lists a few cases of toddlers slipping into brief comas from edible overdoses, these cases remain incredibly rare.

Child-safety packaging, laws against underage sales, and warning labels have minimized the risk of kids’ access to cannabis. Despite this, many are still concerned that advertising – and product design – of cannabis may still appeal to children. Think cartoony brand labels or bright, vibrant gummy colors.

Worse, edibles – which pose unique dangers due to the way the digestive system metabolizes THC into a more potent compound – could create liabilities for a fledgling industry still muscling its way to the $100 billion mark.

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Alcohol Appeals to Kids

But are edibles uniquely dangerous for kids? Before regulators slap new restrictions on what cannabis consumers – namely patients – can buy, I would challenge them to consider other industries that could, presumably, appeal to children.

For example, let’s take a look at alcohol. The argument against edibles is that candies of any form will entice children. But walk into any liquor store and you’ll find an assortment of chocolates packed with candied liquor. Not to mention the mixer flavors that boast tongue-tantalizing flavors like “Sour Watermelon,” “Wild Strawberry,” or “Mocha Mudslide.”

Alcohol, unlike cannabis, can kill if consumed in large quantities. And brain damage caused by booze is medical fact, whereas cannabis may protect brain cells.

Guns Can Appeal to Kids, Too

Alcohol isn’t the only industry where fun words meet cartoony labels through indirect, allegedly kid-friendly marketing. The gun industry does it, too.

Take a peep at some of these gun designs, which can be custom-ordered to specifications. I’m personally partial to the Hello Kitty decals on this pink Glock….

Pink Hello Kitty Glock

Figure 1 Source: Calguns Forum

…but our Canadian readers may get a kick out of the Deadpool designs for this compact 1911.

Dead Pool Kids Gun

Figure 2 Source: Whiskey Tango

If we’re going to ban potentially dangerous products because they may appeal to children, let’s at least be consistent, yeah?

Sometimes Patients Need Easy Edibles Like Gummy Bears

Cannabis’s power as a medicine derives from its wide variety of delivery methods. Although smoking may be most folks’ go-to consumption method, it carries risks. Patients with chronic respiratory disorders like asthma or COPD shouldn’t inhale smoke. Vaping may pose fewer risks, but vapor still introduces free radicals and other potentially toxic degradation products into the lungs and bloodstream.

Some patients may also be incapable of holding down solid food, which rules out more ‘adulty’ edibles like infused salads or breads. Although candy should never be anyone’s go-to consumption method, sometimes it’s the only option that works. Cancer and AIDS patients, and others with wasting syndromes, can get their cannabis by allowing an infused candy to dissolve in the mouth. It is also easily transported from home to work or wherever.

Is This a Free Market or Not?

Although medical cannabis paved the way for the recreational market, candies’ medical benefits alone shouldn’t dictate product regulations. Aren’t we legalizing cannabis because it’s the safer alternative to alcohol and cigarettes?

If the concern is for kids, then why do we also put alcohol in gummy bears, chocolates, Jellos, and sauces or present it in fun fruity frozen cocktails? If we treat cannabis as an adults-only, recreational product like alcohol, then its inclusion in gummy bears, lollipops, cakes, cookies, and chocolates shouldn’t be your biggest concern.

Randy Robinson

As someone who wanted to know everything but couldn't decide on anything, Randy completed degrees in English, World History, and Molecular Biology. During their studies, they received an externship at the biotech firm Cannabis Science Inc., focusing on phytocannabinoids as anti-tumor and anti-cancer agents. Based in the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado, you can find Randy on Twitter, Instagram, and Medium @RanDieselJay

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