Recreational Marijuana Raises Issues of Injuries to Children

A story in The Oregonian this week is especially timely as the legislature considers changes to the ways in which legal recreational marijuana and its derivatives are treated in our state, and serious issues these, in turn, raise concerning injuries to children.

The newspaper recounts how an eight-year-old Klamath Falls boy became sick after eating a marijuana-infused cookie that he found on the ground. The boy’s mother told the paper that after returning from a family trip to a local quarry. “He pulled his chest and made motions that suggested he was choking. He had trouble keeping his eyes open,” the paper reports. It then quotes the mother saying “he said everything looked like a cartoon… He said he was vibrating all over.” A trip to the ER followed, along with five hours of treatment and observations. The boy is now fine.

The broader fallout from this incident may continue for some time, however, and is likely to resonate in the halls of the Oregon legislature in Salem. As The Oregonian notes, “the incident comes as Oregon public health officials and marijuana industry representatives debate the appropriate serving size for marijuana edibles.” Regulators have proposed serving size and concentration levels that are only half of what is allowed by Colorado and Washington “in part to protect novices and children who accidently eat the products.” This particular instance is a case in point: a single cookie contained two adult-size portions of marijuana’s active ingredient, a chemical compound known as THC. Many people unfamiliar with pot cookies or brownies may not be aware that unlike the ordinary versions of the same product one is not supposed to eat the entire thing.

As an Oregon and Washington attorney with a practice focused on injuries to children I hope this incident will focus attention on the very real issues of portion size, packaging and marketing regulation that all surround the legalization of recreational marijuana. These are serious subjects that require equally serious consideration from our elected representatives, especially as marijuana becomes ever-more-readily available. More immediately, however, this is also a safety issue parents need to consider when allowing a child to play at a friend’s house. Parents need to realize when welcoming other people’s children that the obligation to keep dangerous substances away from kids extends to marijuana-laced foods just as much as it does to alcohol or tobacco.

 

The Oregonian: Marijuana-infused cookie sends Oregon boy to hospital