You might think cannabis is cannabis, no matter where it comes from.
But when cannabis was legalized in 2018, and cannabis edibles followed a year later, a lot of thought went into making sure this legal product was safe to be used, and stored, in our homes.
Edible cannabis is of particular concern because it’s made to taste good and often looks like treats that don’t contain cannabis. Children might consume them in great quantities, unaware of the danger an innocuous cookie, gummy candy or chocolate poses. Even adults, without labelling, may not be able to spot the difference between a candy and an edible or a brownie with or without cannabis added.
Children are vulnerable to poisoning from the chemicals in cannabis because of their smaller body size and lower weight. As well, edibles can have a stronger, more prolonged effect on their bodies than other forms of cannabis.
That’s why there are safety rules in place for legal cannabis, which unregulated, illegal products don’t follow—to protect children from potential harm.
If you choose to use cannabis, particularly edibles, look for these safeguards in legal, regulated cannabis that will help prevent children from mistaking it for treats with poisonous consequences.
What you can do as a parent
- Buy legal products from a licensed seller and be aware that, while cannabis is legal, not every product is.
- Store all cannabis products as you would medications and other potentially toxic products—locked up and out of reach in child-resistant packaging or containers.
- Store cannabis edibles in their original packaging.
- Always put cannabis products back into the child-resistant packaging and in the locked and out-of-reach location immediately after use.
- Be particularly vigilant cleaning up after a party, removing any remnants of alcohol and drugs.
- Avoid consuming cannabis in any form in front of your child, either for medical or recreational purposes. Children like to mimic what their parents do.
- If a relative, friend or caregiver your child spends time with uses cannabis, make sure they store it safely and avoid using it in front of your children or while children are in their care.
If you think your child has eaten a cannabis product, call your local poison centre for help—follow the link for phone numbers across Canada. If your child loses consciousness or has difficulty breathing, call 911.