(NaturalNews) As you might have expected, the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington State this year has created new markets for pot-infused products, not the least of which are snacks and treats that customers eat to get high.
According to a recent New York Times report, stores that sell marijuana-laced goodies like watermelon dew drops, mandarin elixers and chocolate truffles are now having a tough time keeping enough inventory on hand.
"The stuff just flies off the shelves," Linda Andrews, owner of LoDo Wellness Center, one of Colorado's newest recreational marijuana stores, told the paper.
The Times further notes:
As marijuana tiptoes further toward the legal mainstream, marijuana-infused snacks have become a booming business, with varieties ranging from chocolate-peppermint Mile High Bars to peanut butter candies infused with hash oil.
Retail shops see them as a nonthreatening way into the shallow end of the marijuana pool, ideal for older customers, tourists staying in smoke-free hotels or anyone who wants the effect without the smoke and coughing.
Support for 'childhood packaging' of pot-infused edibles
But as the popularity - and resultant use - of such products grows, there is mounting concern from some groups, doctors, schools and parents that the products could find their way into the hands of children and teens, the latter of whom might be looking for a discreet way to get high.
As such, there have been some steps taken already to keep pot-infused products out of the wrong hands. Colorado, for example, has ordered stores to sell products in child-resistant containers. And, like other states that offer medicinal or recreational pot, products are not permitted to be labeled in a manner that appeals to kids. Also, serving sizes, ingredients and expiration dates are to be placed on packages by manufacturers.
Advocates for smart marijuana-use laws support those measures. Evan Nison, executive director of NORML New Jersey, a group which supports repealing anti-pot laws, told Natural News that he supports "childhood packaging of edibles."
"Simple regulations like these are one of the benefits of legalization. If we require age verification and correct packaging, these sorts of situations can be avoided," he said. "We can strengthen regulations and learn from the experiences of Colorado and Washington to make sure we have the most responsible cannabis industry possible."
But critics contend that the measures don't go far enough, especially for products that contain as much as 10 times the psychoactive THC that a casual pot smoker might ingest.
"They're attractive to kids; they're easily disguised," Gina Carbone of Smart Colorado, a group that opposes legalization, told the Times. "They're not being regulated properly at all to protect kids."
'People understandably have serious concerns'
Kamy Akhavan, president and managing editor of ProCon.org, a non-partisan group that provides research and data from both sides of the marijuana issue, told Natural News that, in all 20 states where medical marijuana use is permitted, officials "restrict medical marijuana sales to people 18 years or older."
But in several of them, "states allow for minors to consume medical marijuana with parental and physician approval." And in New Jersey, he noted, state law actually "specifies that edibles can be sold to minors but only if they have parental permission and approval from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist."
That could be part of the problem, contend experts, who note that an increasing number of children are being treated for accidental THC ingestion. As reported by the Times:
The children, many of them toddlers, were taken in because they seemed strangely sleepy and disoriented. One had trouble breathing. About half had eaten marijuana cookies, cakes or candies, forms that researchers believed made them more enticing.
"Those edible products are inherently more attractive than what a bud would look like," Dr. George Sam Wang, co-author of a 2013 study that examined the number of children who were taken to emergency departments due to accidental THC ingestion in the Denver area from October 2009 through December 2011.
Akhavan says the concerns are not unfounded.
"People understandably have serious concerns and questions about marijuana and its impact on health and society," he told Natural News.