I voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the State of Washington. My general belief is that adults should be allowed to do whatever they want to do, as long as they aren't harming anybody else.
So, this article is not about whether adults should have the right to smoke pot. Instead, this article is about basic responsibility, something that a lot of potheads apparently don't have.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that a 9-year-old 5th grader took what she believed to be a box of gummy candy to school and shared them with friends. The problem is that it wasn't just any gummy candy; instead, the candy contained THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
It's easy to see how the kid was confused. The box looks just like something you would see in the candy aisle at the grocery store. (See image on right. Credit: Incredibles.)
Recreational marijuana is illegal in New Mexico. The THC candy belonged to the girl's grandfather, who had a medical marijuana prescription.
Obviously, we can't speculate about the grandfather's medical needs. Perhaps he is legitimately in pain, and there is evidence that THC can help. However, it should be noted that the medical benefits of marijuana are dubious. (Thankfully, the FDA is finally cracking down against some of the more outrageous claims, such as that marijuana cures cancer.) It is also well known that many medical marijuana prescriptions are probably bogus. A Forbes writer describes how, using a smartphone app, he obtained a medical marijuana prescription within an hour and without leaving his couch.
Regardless of how grandpa obtained his wacky tobaccy, one thing is perfectly clear: It is immoral and reckless to leave drugs within the reach of children. That five kids were poisoned makes gramps an irresponsible pothead.
With Great Freedom Comes Great Responsibility
It is probably just a matter of time before the entire nation legalizes recreational marijuana. States that have already legalized it need to implement tougher policies, three in particular:
First, there must be severe legal consequences for anyone who through negligence poisons another person with marijuana, opioids, or any other drug. It is inexcusable that a powerful drug could get into the hands of a child. Additionally, there should be consequences for people who negligently poison their pets with drugs, an often nightmarish experience for dogs and other animals.
Second, THC-infused foods should be labeled and advertised properly. The Albuquerque Journal article cited above depicts the Incredibles box with a THC warning on the front. That is not likely to be sufficient. The box looks as if it was designed to attract children. Marijuana edibles packaging may need to be regulated similarly to tobacco ads.
Third, states that have legalized recreational marijuana should embark on a public health campaign aimed at middle school and high school students warning them of the dangers of marijuana. In the same way that we beg kids not to smoke or drink alcohol, we should also encourage them to avoid pot.
Finally, the U.S. government should develop DUI standards for marijuana and invest in research to create a reliable on-the-spot test, neither of which currently exist.
With great freedom comes great responsibility.