By Nina Zdinjak
There’s no doubt that marijuana legalization can and does bring a lot of benefits to consumers, among them the availability of products needed for their health and wellness. Nevertheless, the complexity of cannabis programs seems indescribable.
The legalization of various substances is known to transform people’s attitudes towards them, making them less careful. Education should be a priority whenever a new state embraces the legalization of marijuana and/or other substances, such as psychedelics.
Speaking of education, the state of Massachusetts doesn’t seem to be working enough in this area, as a new report reveals that the state officials have seen an increase in pediatric exposure to cannabis products, writes WWLP.
“We really feel as if like much more information needs to be out there,” said Patricia Henley of the Department of Public Health on Monday,
The Bay state passed a marijuana legalization law some seven years ago, whereas dispensaries began sales in late 2018. Last September, the commission revealed that adult-use cannabis shops in the state had seen more than $2 billion in gross sales, based on data from 165 retailers and three delivery firms.
As cannabis sales grow, so does pediatric exposure to marijuana products, unfortunately.
Henley told members of a Cannabis Advisory Board Public Health Subcommittee that officials received 210 calls in 2020 about “accidental pediatric poisonings” involving marijuana edibles or flower.
“Essentially what our Injury Prevention Program has been seeing is an increase in pediatric exposure to cannabis products,” Henley said.
Furthermore, the state Office of The Child Advocate disclosed an increase in reports of suspected abuse and neglect “because of pediatric cannabis exposure,” Henley added.
The Department of Public Health is working on a campaign to modify and update its educational materials, prioritizing responsible use, safe storage and exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke.
Board members said Boston Children’s Hospital expressed concern as well and proposed teaming up with other groups to help to reach parents, including the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians.
Henley noted that even though the state is using its funds to design a campaign, extra resources may be needed to reach enough people with messaging.
“We don’t know what our budget’s going to be next year and whether there’ll be much money for the dissemination of it,” Henley said.
One board member noted the Cannabis Control Commission had demanded $1 million in public education funding, which could include a focus on “youth prevention.”