Gummies, chocolates, and gummy bears: How one state is protecting children from cannabis edibles

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If you’ve ever worried your kids will mistake your edibles for candy, you’re not alone.

Businesses in Maine offering edible marijuana gummies, beverages, chocolates and baked goods are hoping to grab a growing share of the market, but some are worried about the appeal of edible products to children.

Since the recreational marijuana industry was launched in October, smokable flower has represented 65% of the $13 million in sales, the Portland Press Herald reported on Sunday.

What the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy calls “infused products” represent 14% of sales, though in March they counted for 16%, the newspaper reported.

The state limits the THC content of any edible product to 10 milligrams per serving and 100 milligrams per package, and tests products before they hit the shelves.

Edible marijuana products are legal for adults only in Maine, and the state prohibits the use of animals, people or fruit on any packaging. If children do eat edible products, they are more likely to experience severe symptoms or require hospitalization. Symptoms could include difficulty waking up, breathing or sitting up, the newspaper reported.

The same issue has come up in the world of vapes and e-cigarettes. Vape and e-cigarette companies often disguise their products as everyday items, such as drawstrings on hoodies and phone cases. The flavored e-cigarette company Puff Bar even intentionally packaged their products in the same way as candy to attract children.

Though Puff Bar was recently banned by the FDA, it’s hard for the FDA to penalize less obviously misleading companies without having laid out explicit regulations for cannabis companies. So, until federal regulations on cannabis products are set in place, the cannabis and CBD industries in many states are something of a Wild West.

Doctors like Stephen Meister, a pediatrician at MaineGeneral Health and former president of the Maine chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, advocate for requirements that medical marijuana be stored in child-proof containers.

“Edible products such as brownies, cookies, gummies, and other confections have existed within the unregulated market for decades,” said David Heidrich, a spokesperson for the marijuana policy office. “One of the goals of legalization is to diminish the unregulated, untested illicit market.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.