Toronto Public Health has launched an education campaign to prevent accidental consumption of cannabis just months before the legalization of edibles in October.
“We know that kids get into everything,” said Toronto Public Health spokesperson Susan Shepherd, in an email statement to The Toronto Observer.
The campaign includes a guide to safe cannabis use on the City of Toronto’s website, and a light-hearted video of a child making crafts with menstrual products, a reminder that children will play with anything in reach.
Cannabis + kids do not mix. Keep cannabis safely stored and avoid consuming cannabis when caring for children. Learn more about cannabis and child safety: https://t.co/ZbzjanXgEG
— Toronto Public Health (@TOPublicHealth) March 25, 2019
The city advises anyone using cannabis to lock away their stash out of reach of children. They also say not to use it when around children, due to second-hand smoke and impaired judgment.
Public education based on research and evidence is an important way to ensure responsible use, including “protecting children from access to cannabis products, including edible cannabis,” Shepherd said.
Cannabis use was legalized in Canada in October 2018, but did not include edible products. Under Ontario law, cannabis is restricted to those aged 19 or older, and must be purchased from dealers authorized by the provincial government. These dealers are not allowed to sell edible products such as candy, chocolate, and baked goods infused with cannabis.
Shepherd added that, while the city does not have the statistics of children who have been hospitalized due to accidental ingestion of cannabis, she’s aware of a rise in such cases in several U.S. jurisdictions following cannabis legalization.
Since October 2018, the Ontario Poison Centre received 70 calls reporting unintentional exposure to cannabis in its three jurisdictions: Manitoba, Ontario and Nunavut, said Jessamine Luck of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, which runs the poison centre.
Ward 10 Councillor Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, called the education initiative “critically important,” in the city’s news release.
“While legalizing cannabis is long overdue, we must make sure we educate the public on the potential negative impacts, particularly for young children. That’s a public health approach to legalization,” said Cressy.
Health Canada consulted with experts from December 2018 to February 2019 on the regulations of edibles and extracts. They confirmed edibles will be legal by Oct. 17, exactly one year after cannabis was legalized in Canada.