The joy and thrill of Halloween have always been accompanied by a few parental concerns. While concerns about strangers and unfamiliar neighborhoods have long dominated the list, a newer concern has emerged recently: the consumption of cannabis candies among children.
Back in Winnipeg last year, a woman was accused of distributing cannabis candies to children during the Halloween festivities. She has since pleaded guilty. The increasing popularity and legality of cannabis edibles have led to numerous cases where children mistakenly consume these products, believing them to be regular candy.
According to a CTV news article, pediatric hospitalizations due to cannabis poisoning have doubled in regions where edibles have been legalized. While cannabis consumption in moderate amounts may not have severe impacts on adults, children— with their developing brains and smaller body masses—are more vulnerable to adverse effects.
The Ontario Government’s Ministry of Health recognizes a range of symptoms of cannabis poisoning, including dizziness, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, and even seizures. Beyond the immediate health risks, there are concerns about the long-term impacts of early cannabis exposure on developing brains. Similarly, there are concerns that certain individuals are at a greater risk of suffering from various mental health issues—such as anxiety and depression—due to cannabis consumption. It is easier for users to succumb to cannabis poisoning through cannabis ingestion—by eating edibles, for example, as opposed to cannabis inhalation—ingestion via vaping or smoking cannabis.
Regulations are in place to safeguard the public from accidental cannabis usage. The standardized cannabis symbol must be present on the packaging of cannabis products, and containers for these products must be child-proof. The packaging must include health warnings and is subject to limitations on colouring and branding that could attract the eyes of children.
For individuals and parents who want to ensure their candies are free from cannabis, a few precautions can be taken. Notably, parents should inspect all candies before allowing children to consume their Halloween treats. Anything that looks unfamiliar, lacks clear branding, or appears to have been tampered with should be set aside. Parents may also educate themselves on the signs of cannabis poisoning in children, such as vomiting and confusion, among others. Any suspected cannabis poisoning should be reported to poison centres, medical professionals, and the police immediately to reduce the harm done.
As the hauntingly delightful night of Halloween approaches each year, it becomes imperative for all stakeholders to prioritize children’s safety above all else, ensuring that the night remains filled with more treats than tricks.