A new study out of France shows a 133% increase in the number of children admitted to emergency rooms for unintentional marijuana intoxication over an 11-year period. Undoubtedly those who support prohibition will trot out this study at every opportunity to show what a danger cannabis is to THE CHILDREN. After all, if this happens in France where cannabis is illegal, what will happen in places where marijuana is legalized?
To start, let us examine the numbers: From 2004 to 2014, 235 children went to the ER in France for marijuana ingestion. There are over 12 million children in France aged 14 years or younger…right now. So in 11 years tens of millions of kids have passed through most of their childhood and only 235 have went to the ER for consuming cannabis? Not exactly the epidemic the phrase “a 133% increase” would lead you to believe exists.
This is not to say that these incidents weren’t a very big deal for the hundreds of families that experienced them; I’m certain they were. No one wants to see their child sick in the emergency room, and no parent wants to be responsible for their child getting sick. But that is a matter of parenting; just like keeping your children away from things like prescription pills is important, so too is keeping your kids away from things like marijuana edibles. But will legalization exacerbate this problem?
Admittedly, legalization will increase the supply of marijuana edibles. Not everyone has the patience and skill to make cannabis-infused edibles, so having them made on a large scale by professionals and available for sale will certainly increase their consumption. After all, if you could only have a Twinkie if you made it yourself, less people would eat them.
But many people do make edibles on their own, and they have for decades. Pot brownies have been well known outside the cannabis community since at least the 1970s. But legalization brings professional packaging, child proof containers, warning labels and the like. A burgeoning, legal cannabis industry is much better equipped to handle these issues than if marijuana sales were left to black market dealers.
One final note: whenever you see a story about an increase in children going to the ER for marijuana ingestion, ask yourself how many of those cases resulted from a combination of parents being less afraid to admit what their child consumed and better testing. How much underreporting was happening when the old numbers were collected as compared to when the new numbers were collected?