- Store all cannabis products in child-resistant packaging and in a lockable container, out of sight or in a place kids cannot access.
- If you suspect a child has ingested cannabis, seek medical help immediately.
- Educate older kids on the dangers of using and ingesting cannabis.
Now that cannabis is available in new formats that may be attractive to , such as edible foods, beverages, and topicals (such as creams and bath salts), there is greater concern about keeping them out of reach of kids to prevent accidental consumption. Even though the government imposes strict packaging requirements to protect against accidental consumption and ensure cannabis products are not appealing to children, parents and caregivers can take additional measures to safeguard cannabis products from falling into children’s hands.
Why cannabis products may appeal to kids
New cannabis formats, such as edibles, can look like treats to a child, as they may come in the form of cookies, brownies, and soft chews. Cannabis-infused beverages and topical cannabis products like lotions can be easily mistaken for the regular variety. Accidental ingestion can lead to overconsumption, as one package can legally contain up 10 mg of THC.
Health Canada recommends parents and caregivers do not consume edible cannabis products in the presence of children. Seeing these products can confuse kids, and your care in securing the products may be impaired.
Keep it locked up
The best way to store cannabis in your home is the same way you would stow away medication or toxic chemicals: in its original child-safe tamper-proof packaging. Ensure all products are clearly labelled, even if they are edible cannabis items you’ve made yourself and reseal them after use. Go one step further and purchase a lockable container, which should be stored out of sight in a place that is not accessible to children.
Topical cannabis products should also be kept secure and away from children — not in a cupboard or under the bathroom sink with other lotions or beauty items where they could be accidentally used by others in your home.
What to do if a child has consumed cannabis
If you suspect a child has consumed a cannabis product, seek medical attention immediately. When cannabis is ingested, the THC and other active ingredients are absorbed into the body through the digestive tract, so any potential effects may take time to appear. According to Health Canada, symptoms can range from mild to severe. The key symptoms to look out for are:
- difficulty breathing
- lack of coordination
- slurred speech
Call 911 if the child appears ill or is having trouble breathing.
Education is a key to prevention
It has been documented that some adolescents do use cannabis. In a 2017 study in Ontario, one in five children in grades seven to 12 reported using cannabis in the previous year. Talk to your kids about the dangers of cannabis, including the effects and consequences of consumption, which include impacts to their still-developing brains, risky decision making and the risk of developing mental health problems. There is no “right” age to talk to children about cannabis use as every child is different, but having the conversation before they are likely to try using cannabis will establish a connection early on and allow you to share your concerns. For more information, visit Drug Free Kids Canada.