Marijuana is illegal everywhere in the United States. Under federal drug laws, it is a crime to possess it, grow it, or sell it. Anyone allowing children access to this drug ought to be guilty of a myriad of crimes. Yet because 18 states have voted to legalize it to one degree or another, everyone just seems to be looking the other way.
Now children are overdosing on the drug. The authorities’ response: Adults should put this illegal drug in a container that is difficult for a child to open.
What a strange world. Doctors, social worker, and police who often seem so ready to wield the power of the state to protect children are all but silent on this issue. Our laws are very clear about providing alcohol or cigarettes to children, and I would venture to say that giving a kid a pack of cigarettes or a six-pack of beer could land the perpetrator in jail.
Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, more than a dozen children have overdosed on the drug. Marijuana baked into cookies, brownies, or candy has led to children as young as 8 months being hospitalized. Dr. George Sam Wang at the Rocky Mountain Poison and DrugCenter in Denver believes doctors are unfamiliar with symptoms of marijuana poisoning in children, and if parents are not upfront about the problem it can take a lot of time to diagnose.
Common symptoms include sleepiness and difficult walking. The problems are compounded because children’s bodies are smaller, and today’s marijuana is much more potent than ever before.
Treatment involves hospitalization for a day or two while the drug runs its course, and while no deaths have been reported, Dr. Wang believes parents and grandparents are choosing not to take children to the ER for marijuana poisoning; the number of actual cases may be higher than reported.
Again, marijuana is illegal under federal law, and everyone who possesses marijuana is in violation of that law, regardless of what state law says. Authorities are washing their hands of the matter, and children are being endangered as a result.
In 2012, proponents of marijuana spent nearly a million dollars trying to make Arkansas the first southern state to legalize marijuana. They almost succeeded, and they’re likely to be back with a measure that sounds more palatable for voters in 2014. If Arkansans vote on this measure again, they need to consider the fact that they’re not just voting to allow themselves to grow and use marijuana, but they are voting to allow everyone, no matter how irresponsible, to grow and use it.
That includes people who have no regard for the wellbeing of children.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.