The holiday season has officially arrived, which means it's time to bring on the holiday treats (cookies and candies and brownies, oh my!). And if you're a cannabis enthusiast, chances are at least some of those treats are going to be infused with a bit of THC to help get you in the holiday spirit.
When used responsibly, edibles are a perfectly safe and festive way for adults to enjoy cannabis, but for other members of the household, precautions are necessary. Edibles can be packaged like any other holiday treat, so children or pets might be tempted to sneak a bite — and put themselves at risk of accidental exposure. In California, calls to poison control centers about accidental cannabis exposure to minors were projected to more than double in 2018.
Dr. Rais Vohra of the California Poison Control System's Fresno-Madera division said in a statement, “Emergency rooms and poison control centers have gotten many cases of young children who accidentally ate marijuana edibles and required hospital admission due to the severity of their symptoms.” According to Pet Poison Helpline, the number of cases involving pets and accidental marijuana consumption in North America increased by 448 percent from 2012 to 2018. According to Dr. Ahna Brutlag, director of Veterinary Services for Pet Poison Helpline, there have been 800 marijuana-related cases in the past 12 months.
However, this holiday season, you can have your edibles and eat them, too without putting your children or pets at risk. Here are five ways to keep your edibles safe and your enjoyment secure over the holidays:
1. Don't Store Your Edibles Where Kids or Pets Have Access.
You wouldn't leave an open bottle of wine on the floor or in a low cabinet where your child or pet could easily get into it — and you should follow the same logic for storing cannabis edibles.
“Keep [cannabis] food or drinks in a safe place. … Treat these products just like you would alcoholic beverages — use caution and common sense,” Vohra said.
Store your edibles on a high shelf, cabinet, or drawer that isn't easily reached by children or pets. The harder it is to access your edibles — say, in a childproof canister on a cabinet's top shelf — the less likely your child, curious teenager, or four-legged friend will accidentally get into them.
2. Make Sure Edibles Are Stored Securely.
Storing edibles out of sight and out of reach is a great start. But even if you feel confident your pets or kids can't reach your edibles, it never hurts to go the extra mile and lock them up.
Keeping your edibles under lock and key adds an extra layer of protection; even if your child or pet happens to stumble upon your storage location, they still won't be able to open your stash and accidentally ingest an “adults-only” treat.
3. Avoid Edibles That Might Grab Your Child's Attention.
While legal states have laws in place that prohibit the manufacture or packaging of cannabis edibles that appeal to children, there are some products that might be more attractive to children than others. Labeling regulations vary from state to state, so shoppers can't always rely on packaging to be a first line of defense. When it comes to edibles, err on the side of caution; avoid those with easy-to-open or kid-friendly packaging, such as bright colors and cartoony characters that could entice children.
4. Keep Edibles in Their Original Packaging.
Speaking of packaging, it's important to always keep your edibles in the original packaging, which often comes with warning signs and childproof containers. It can be impossible to tell the difference between a cannabis-infused gummy worm and your run-of-the-mill candy, so keeping edibles in their packaging can help prevent any confusion and also provide helpful dosage, serving size, and ingredient information that will be helpful in case of an emergency.
5. Stay safe this holiday season.
It's the holidays, so get festive and enjoy your edibles. This may be the time to do a little extra guilt-free holiday shopping and give everyone on your list an awesome, lockable edible container.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you believe a child or pet has accidentally ingested a cannabis-infused product, call the National Poison Control Center hot line immediately at 800-222-1222. Its specialists are on call 24/7 to answer your questions and, if necessary, direct you to the nearest treatment facility.