cannabis: The Poster Child For………… (Part 1)

As a precursor to this blog mini-series, I want my point to be 100% crystal clear. I support the policies, rules, and regulations that are currently governing cannabis from a public/consumer safety standpoint. My intention of bringing these issues to light is not to throw mud onto others but to encourage all of us, as a collective society, to hold other regulated industries up to the same high-caliber standards as ours. Happy reading!

Cannabis: The Poster Child for Responsible Packaging, Labeling, and Advertising

How would the world react if firearms were modified to be shaped like recognizable children’s toys? (It’s been done)

How would the world react if the pharmaceutical industry aired commercials with funny cartoon antagonists to market their products to the public? (It’s been done)

How would the world react if social media was rampantly filled with gorgeous models wearing nothing but a ravishing smile and just enough material for an eye mask to cover an unsuspecting child’s eyes? (I won’t bother linking you regardless of the unlimited word count allowed for this post by WordPress)

As cannabis legalization continues sweeping the nation, an aura of uncertainty and worry is perpetuated by sensationalism looking to extract unsubstantiated emotions. Catchy news titles like “As more states legalize marijuana, more children accidentally ingest THC-laced edibles” continue making national headlines and it’s time that we had an honest and candid conversation about it.

The definition of “laced” from the good ole Oxford dictionary is “contaminated with a substance (usually harmful or toxic) present in small amounts.” I can 1000% guarantee you that whoever took the time to infuse a Nerds rope with THC in their home kitchen and proceed to put it in packaging easily obtained from Alibaba fully INTENDED to put it there. This product is not contaminated. It was manufactured with a purpose and an end consumer in mind, and:

A better title for this article would have been “As more states legalize cannabis, removing unregulated products will help prevent accidental consumption by children.” But you know… that tagline is a bit less clickable.

Come on world, have we strayed that far from common sense? If you rolled up a ball of manure into bite-size portions and stamped the middle with two M’s or poured bleach into a palm-sized pink cardboard box with a straw, where do you think it will end up? The unlicensed manufacturers of these unlicensed products are operating under the shadows of loosely interpreted legislation and do NOT represent what a mature, regulated market will look like.

In writing cannabis regulations, individual states have set forth extremely detailed guidelines related to the packaging, labeling, and advertising of cannabis products. A regulated market has extensive language prohibiting depictions of cartoons on labels, requiring large visual “contains THC” warnings, and prohibiting product formulations that resemble any commercially produced candy. There are also requirements for child-resistant, resealable packaging similar to safety caps on prescription medications in a pharmacy. In addition, lot numbers, expiration dates, and manufacturer contact information are essential. Public safety is and should continue to be priority number 1. Right?

An issue is that the basis of these regulations hinder upon the continual notion that cannabis is extremely DANGEROUS. When a substance has been legally categorized with cocaine and heroin as a Schedule I substance for almost a century it’s easy to lump together similar sentiments, but the data begs to differ.

Notice how cannabis didn’t make the list? Right, because there have been 0 documented deaths associated with cannabis overdose in that same timeframe.

It’s time we collectively move on from the stigma that cannabis is an inherently dangerous substance and arm regulators and policy-makers with facts, statistics, and data so a repeat of the prohibition era doesn’t happen again. As populations debating cannabis legalization continue shouting “WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?” I ask them to look at other pressing topics affecting our youth across the country and inquire about what those industries are doing to combat the problem. As Americans, can we all just take a breather and figure out what’s truly important for the future of this country?

Here are some facts to consider:

Between 2005-2015, there were 406 unintentional firearm deaths for children aged 0-19 in the US.

In 2019, there were 3,683 deaths by opioid overdose for children aged 0-24 in the US.

Between 2017-2018, 14.4 million children and adolescents aged 2-19 were labeled as clinically obese.

4.4 million children aged 3-17 suffer from diagnosed anxiety in the US

1.9 million children aged 3-17 suffer from diagnosed depression in the US

Tell me the blunt truth – what’s worse in your opinion? A child accidentally ingesting a cannabis edible contained in colorful packaging and spending a night in the hospital or consciously letting them eat from a sugary cereal box with the same colorful packaging every morning leading to a lifetime of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease? Should sugar and sugar-laced products be held to the same packaging, labeling, and advertising standards?

“She told me she didn’t know if she was alive or if she was dead,” Porcella said. “No one ever wants to see their child intoxicated, let alone having a bad trip on marijuana. But she’s telling me, ‘Daddy, am I dying? I can’t tell if I’m alive or dead. Everything seems real, but it seems fake at the same time.’ ”

From Washington Post article above

Is having an introspective conversation about life and death with your child a better or worse option than having permanent self-esteem issues from constantly seeing perfectly crafted posts of beautiful people living perfect lives on social media? Where is the corporate responsibility of promoting and providing mental health advertisements to counteract social media harms?

Cannabis policy-writers have an impossible task at hand in creating cannabis regulations that will appeal to the masses. When I see the fine-tooth comb they’re using to craft these rules and regulations, we should also be checking out who the hairstylists are for other industries. As the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats” continues to gain traction in the cannabis industry, my ask is simple: Is everybody else willing to sail the high seas with us?

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