The First 'Not For Kids' Warning Label for Marijuana Products

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Kids and candy go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Kids and weed-laced candy? Not so much. Rather, not at all.

Just ask Antonio Neuaone, a Sheboygan, Wis. father whose three-year-old landed up “ minimally responsive” in the emergency room after accidentally eating one of his pot-infused confections left on a table at a child’s birthday party.

Neuaone, who allegedly waited a day to take his toddler to the hospital to see if his high would wear off, now faces criminal charges, including child neglect resulting in bodily harm and obstructing an officer.

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What that happened to Neuaone’s son is far from unique. In fact, in step with the legalization of medical marijuana 25 states and Washington, D.C., the dangerous “oops” is becoming increasingly more common, with babies as young as 8-months-old falling ill after swallowing medical marijuana (which is still illegal under federal law) itself and THC-infused edibles.

To curb the rising problem, Washington State, which legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational cannabis in 2012, has proposed labeling edible marijuana products dispensed from legal pot dispensaries within its borders. The suggested label, revealed yesterday by the Washington Poison Center, comprises a big, red hand in an open-palmed “stop” position and reads “Not For Kids,” in bold all-caps letters. An emergency number to call in case of accidental ingestion, and for additional information, also appears on the label. Images of the proposed red-handed warning labels, issued yesterday in a Washington Poison Center PDF, contain the following statement:

"Marijuana is not for kids. Like alcohol and tobacco, kids need to know that marijuana products can be very harmful to them. Place these stickers on products that aren't’ for kids and explain to them what the sticker means and why it’s important … Use age-appropriate language to educate and explain why this product is harmful for kids. For example: “When children eat this, it can make them very sick because it contains marijuana--which is a drug.”

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will include the warning symbol on all edible products in its draft rules. The Board is expected to file draft rules Aug. 10, 2016. If the rules “follow an expected timeline,” the label will be required starting on January 17, 2017. “The number of calls to the Washington Poison Center related to marijuana exposures reached a single-year high in 2015 with 272 calls,” Dr. Alexander Garrard, managing director of Washington State’s poison center, said in a statement issued yesterday. “With more than 150 calls already this year, it is our hope that the Not for Kids label and our increased education efforts will equip parents and caregivers with the tools to have a conversation with their loved ones ages 1 to 21.”