Attitudes are changing about marijuana across the United States. Once demonized, partaking of marijuana is now seen by many as equivalent to, and in many cases better than, having a drink of alcohol.
This is especially true in the western states Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington. These are the states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use (as has the District of Columbia).
That’s all good news for those who like marijuana. But with this newfound freedom in some parts of the U.S., there also comes great responsibility, particularly for those who have children.
Issues in Colorado
As legalization has led to more widespread use of cannabis in Colorado, there also has been an unfortunate side effect: more kids have had accidental exposure to marijuana, according to CNN.
The number of kids who have been treated at hospitals and poison control centers has spiked since 2014. This is when Colorado citizens legalized marijuana for recreational use. CNN, quoting from a report by JAMA Pediatrics, reported that there have been 87 cases of children 9 years old and younger who have accidentally ingested, inhaled or been exposed to cannabis in 2014 and 2015.
A similar increase in numbers has been reported by the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, which is just outside Denver.
Almost half the cases involved ingesting marijuana edibles such as brownies.
“I think other states, if they pass laws to legalize marijuana, have to be cognizant of these things and think about” measures to protect children, Dr. George Sam Wang, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado in Denver, told CNN.
Keeping Kids From Your Marijuana
Both Wang and the authors of the JAMA Pediatrics study said that more preventative measures need to be in place to keep kids from accidentally being exposed to marijuana.
The best place to start is for those who partake in marijuana to take steps to keep children from finding it.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Buy a lock. Make sure you keep your stash under lock and key. Make sure you keep the key somewhere the kids are not going to find it (especially if you have teens). There are even pouches now that are made expressly for this purpose.
Buy a safe. If you find the lock and key approach is not working, or giving you peace of mind, then consider investing in a small safe and placing your stash there.
Store edibles. If you have something left over, then be sure to also put your edibles in a safe, locked location where a child will not eat it. All they see is a brownie, and they are going to want one.
Put everything away. Discipline yourself to put everything – marijuana, whatever you use to smoke it, edibles, everything – locked away after you use it, every time. You wouldn’t leave a half-consumed bottle of wine out where the kids would drink it, so do the same with marijuana.
Establish boundaries. This goes both ways. The kids need to respect your personal belongings. And you need to respect your kids by never partaking in such a way that they can inhale cannabis smoke or eat a marijuana edible. Following the above rules about putting everything away and under lock and key also sets firm, easy-to-follow boundaries.
Educate the kids. Marijuana is no longer something you have to hide. Educate your kids about what you have and why it’s important for them to respect boundaries. This also will help them make better decisions about marijuana down the road.
Keeping these tips in mind will help make your house a safe one in terms of marijuana. Having cannabis in the house should not be an issue, even a house full of kids. Of course, only as long as you take the responsible steps to make sure they are not accidentally exposed to marijuana.