The medical benefits of marijuananotwithstanding, there are still considerable risks associated with marijuana. Regulators and assemblies in various states across the USA are scurrying around doing their best to get everything in place for recreational and medical marijuana deadlines. Even so, many will fail to make the deadlines or will only be able to put together slap dash provisions in terms of marijuana regulation. And this is for weed itself, not marijuana edibles. The regulatory framework for marijuana is being prepared and put into place. The regulatory framework for marijuana edibles is non-existent and is not even being considered, making the industry even more dangerous. Some regions have abandoned the implementation of marijuana edibles until marijuana itself has been properly instigated, which might just be the most intelligent way forward.
The Dangers of Marijuana Edibles
The fact that marijuana edibles are essentially unregulated makes it a dangerous industry for potential customers, particularly the young. However, the very nature of edibles themselves are more dangerous than the traditional method of smoking marijuana. This is because it takes longer for the high associated with edibles to take effect, and this extra time period makes it hard to judge the effects. In the meantime, people tend to eat more and more marijuana edibles, until the effects hit them all at once, resulting in an immediate slumber or ever the dreaded “whitey”, a state so described because the complexion of the individual goes completely pale, resulting sometimes in sickness and always in slumber.
Of particular concern at the moment is teenagers and students. An awareness campaign about the dangers of marijuana edibles and threatening levels of THC in pot will be launched in October in virtually all Monroe County high schools by student teams in each school district.Armed with funding from Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeast Michigan, the Monroe County Substance Abuse Coalitionis leading the effort to help students and parents be better informed about marijuana abuse and misuse. 44 students are currently on the coalition leadership team. According to the organizational spokesperson Jodi Brooks
“There is so much misinformation out there about marijuana…The reality is there are dangers with eating edibles and the amount of THC levels are steadily rising. That’s not good for our youth.”
The coalition has received considerable backlash from many parents, who are aware of the benefits of medical marijuana and think that the campaign is an attack on marijuana as a whole. This is not the case. The goal of the organization is for students to stay away from marijuana as a recreational drug and to be aware of the dangers of cannabis edibles in particular. According to Brooks
“We are all about reducing access to youth…We are making them aware of the (different) ways marijuana is packaged and served. Unlike smoking pot, there is no odor with edibles.”
Marijuana Perception and Attitudes
Indeed, the main dangers associated with the introduction of marijuana is that it is becoming a “thing”. Seen as hip, trendy and harmless, teenagers are going to start with marijuana and develop lifelong habits, and there is little doubt that marijuana infringes test scores and IQ in young individuals who use it daily. This has been shown in studies, but either way it is not a good idea to have students smoking at all time. Their psychology is not as strong and they will be unable to develop personal will power if they are more or less constantly stoned. According to a state poll conducted by the Michigan Poll for Public Health, half of the student respondents said that marijuana was easy or very easy to obtain. But the environment and attitudes surrounding marijuana use are critical in determining how many people use and how often.
The primary focus of the campaign is on bringing awareness to cannabis edibles in particular. The concentrates infused in edible foods today contain levels of THC that could range from 40 to 80 percent. That’s much more potent and dangerous than in the 1980s, when THC levels were around 4 percent, and even as recently as 2015, when levels ranged from 20 to 30 percent. As it stands the marijuana edibles market is dangerously under regulated (as in non-regulated) and this presents a danger to students in particular.
A Dangerous Industry
The number of cannabis edibles are on the rise and the packaging and marketing of edibles makes young people in particular highly susceptible to them. Snickers bars, Lucozade, Maryland Cookies and Pringles are already addictive and dangerous enough without adding THC into the mix. It is important to clamp down on companies now to restrict their marketing and labelling to young individuals. Colorado has recently taken this step with animal shaped cannabis products to reduce their appeal to young people, preventing cannabis edibles in the shape of animals. And it is important to remember the actions of early tobacco companies, who captured millions of people through false advertising and clever marketing and packaging. Any fines they paid out in court were mere parking tickets compared to the revenues collected from lifelong smokers who started smoking at 15 as a result of their advertising campaigns.