Missouri Shapes Strict New Law Concerning Cannabis Edibles

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By banning the production of edibles in certain shapes, has the state’s fervor for regulation gone too far?

 

Much like cannabis, stories on individuals overdosing on multivitamins don’t really exist.

Though eating too many gummy vitamins can definitely lead to health issues, Bayer’s popular Flintstones line, for instance, continues to offer chewable daily supplements in the form of Barney, Pebbles, and Dino. Available in kid-friendly flavors like cherry, lime, and grape, these lip-smacking supplements have been around for over 50 years.

For some reason, however, legislators in Missouri are not convinced that child-resistant packaging will similarly be enough when it comes to edibles of the cannabis variety.

On May 15, Missouri lawmakers passed a bill that bans marijuana edibles shaped like a human, animal, or fruit. (Geometric shapes, by comparison, will still be permitted.) Though nothing will be official until Gov. Mike Parson signs the legislation, the shape of this policy has reignited a debate that’s lasted as long as the industry: just how much is enough when it comes to protecting the children from cannabis exposure?

Thankfully, the days of “Reefer Madness” are far behind us. Unfortunately, many of the harmful myths and outright lies propagated by those bad faith actors with government backing continue to linger in the minds of today’s elected officials.

Obviously, there is a notable difference in eating one too many vitamins and accidentally ingesting a sizable quantity of THC. Even if the former does pose some risks, no one has any desire to see an underage individual accidentally dosed with cannabis. Beyond the mental scars such an experience can leave behind, there are risks when it comes to how one unfamiliar with THC might react to it.

At the same time, edibles are continuing on evolution all their own. Gone are the olden days of brown bag brownies. Today we have a delectable world of gourmet experiences to choose from. As the telltale signs of cannabis (smell, taste, look) are buried in evergrowing ribbons of butter and chocolate, distinguishing between regular cookies and “special” ones isn’t always easy. It might also be extra tough for a kid, especially one who can’t yet read — if not for the child-resistant packaging.

In California, the biggest state market for weed in the U.S., there are numerous restrictions in place to ensure outcomes of accidental ingestion don’t transpire. Those restrictions include resealable, tamper-evident child-resistant packaging, and a ban on labeling that’s attractive to children. While the number of calls to poison control centers involving underage cannabis consumers has gone up in recent years, the numbers are actually in line with what one might expect given the expanded access and availability of legal marijuana over the same period of time.

There will always be parents who forget to put their stash away and older siblings who neglect to grab a stray crumb. Thus, while eradicating the concept of accidentally eating weed entirely may be impossible, there is still work being done to ensure that no child’s Pixar viewing is ever involuntarily taken to the next level.

To an extent, the reasoning behind Missouri’s law isn’t illogical. Kids like to eat gingerbread men, animal-shaped candies, and cheddar goldfish by the handful. If there’s an edible that looks like something they recognize, they might eat it. Why not avoid that? Well, where the whole thing falls apart is in the presumption of failure on the part of both packaging and consumers.

The only way for a child to get their hands on a (legal) zebra-shaped treat packed with THC is if someone else has left the product out of its packaging. There’s no way to regulate human stupidity, which is why laws like the one under consideration in Missouri may do more to hurt than to help. That’s because by implementing such a ban, lawmakers may also be amplifying unfounded concerns for the public to digest and repeat.

Again, the best weapon in the battle against accidental consumption — and all misinformation regarding cannabis — is the truth. Instead of making people scared to buy an edible by subjecting the product to a cumbersome regulation involving shapes, why not fund a public information campaign? Getting high on knowledge may sound dorky, but it sure beats getting high on THC without knowing it.

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