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    Colorado's Children Are Getting Too Stoned on Pot Food, Says Study

    Written by

    Michael Byrne


    Brownies by ginnerobot/Flickr

    Allow me to start with an anecdote about the most stoned/generally fucked up I have ever been in my 32 years of existence. I was in the back of a car on a mini Colorado road trip from my little college town to Copper Mountain—about three hours, entirely through mountains. We'd prepared a full tray of weed brownies from a giant ziplock bag of "shake" and some plants of a friend's that hadn't turned out to be so hot for smoking. Another friend was a full-on Doctor of Weed Chemistry, so the oil we'd come up with—for bakingwas as strong as anything most of us had seen, and the resulting brownies tasted about as much like pot as any other ingredient. But they were stll pretty good from a junk food perspective, just very weedy. 

    So, we all had a few bites before leaving, but I was left in the backseat with the tray and a bag of chips. I went to town on both, killing off half the tray by myself before even realizing what I'd done. A half hour later, resting my suddenly impossibly heavy head on back of the seat, I watched as the stars above, bright in the clear mountain night-sky, turned from familiar blinking pinholes to cold, white arcs. The effect was replicated on most everything else capable of reflecting light for the duration of the trip. Post-drive, I retreated quickly into a sphere of naseau and anxiety, which lasted until sometime the next afternoon. 

    The point of this story is that pot-laced food is a bit different than most any other method of weed consumption. If you have the eating habits of, say, a child (like I did/do), that can lead to interesting consequences. And a study out in JAMA Pediatrics points to a recent spike in accidental weed consumption by the children of Colorado, which is being blamed on that state's recent legalization of said drug. Fair enough—when I was a kid I'd house anything with sugar without thinking twice. 

    The numbers aren't actually all that shocking. The study looked at 1,378 patients under age 12 who were evaluated for unintentional ingestions at the Children's Hospital Colorado emergency department; 790 before Sept. 30, 2009 and 588 after Oct. 1, 2009. That's the date when Colorado relaxed its medical pot laws in response to an Obama administration memo suggesting state weed laws would not likely be targeted by federal law enforcement. Before Sept. 30, none of those evaluations were linked to weed, while after, the number rose to 14, with eight being traceable to pot food products.

    So, 14 kids got stoned over the 40 or so months between the full-on medical legalization of weed in the state. Arguably that's not actually a huge number, particularly given the relatively light severity of accidental weed ingestion—though it's getting more severe as weed gets strongercompared to pretty much any other bad thing in your apartment a kid might consume, like sugary, cherry NyQuil, peach schnapps, or more aknowledged poisons like drain cleaner and pills. Alcohol in particular is a much more real problem than weed given its super-quick absorbtion rate; a goodly dose of schnapps swallowed by a small enough kid could be lethal. While two of the Colorado kids were admitted to intensive care, all of them recovered in a day or two, without lasting side effects.

    Nonetheless, it's weed that the study's authors want to have in child resistant packaging rather than booze or fruity-smelling household chemicals. "We know that children will act quickly to ingest even unpalatable items like household cleaners, pills and capsules," says University of Colorado medical toxologist Michael Kosnett. "The allure of these marijuana edibles which taste and look like simple sweets makes them especially risky." Which is a real point, but it doesn't make the cap on the bottle of sweet, tasty fruit juice (aka margarita) in my fridge any tighter or weed any more deadly. 

    Reach this writer at michaelb@motherboard.tv.