Industry News & Updates

Cannabis, Kids, and Safety: Everything You Need to Know

By Maru Sauer

When a 7-year-old at Country Dale Elementary School in Franklin Wisconsin pulled out a CBD vape pen in his second-grade class and began using it, school officials called the police. He found the vape pen in his mother’s purse, according to KOLO ABC 8. Since the use of CBD is legal in Tennessee and no real harm was done, no charges were pressed against the mother.

However, stories like these draw attention to a topic worth exploring. For instance, where and how should parents be storing their vape pens, tinctures, and edibles? Although there are instances when the use of hemp-derived products would be approved for children, it isn’t recommended outside of their doctor’s supervision. Additionally, the use of vape pens could pose a new set of risks that parents want to avoid.

Whether you’re looking for a way to ensure you are responsibly storing CBD, or want to know how to talk about these products with your child, these experts have you covered.

Keep It Secured and Out of Sight

Even when using legal cannabis products, Joseph Hoelscher, the managing attorney at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC, advises parents to keep their products secure and out of sight.

“Put your stuff away when not in use,” he says. “By that, I mean, keep it in an ‘adult’ place the kids won’t access, such as a high shelf in your closet.”

Jarret Patton, MD FAAP, a practicing board-certified pediatrician that has taught pediatrics at several academic centers including New York University, PennState University, and the University of South Florida, agrees.

“Although there are a couple of specific medical conditions that can safely be treated with cannabis in children, most kids should not have access to your medication,” he says. “Cannabis should be safely stored as you would any other potentially dangerous medication.”

An opaque box with a lock is what Hoelscher recommends. However, reusing a child-proof medication bottle is not advised, as contamination could occur from remaining residue from the previous medication held in these bottles.

Think Twice Before Using CBD in Front of Children

When it comes to the use of legal cannabis products, like CBD, it is important to remember that children may not differentiate between a vape pen loaded with CBD and other products containing THC. This should inform your decision to use it in front of minors.

“Younger children are unlikely to understand or convey the difference between CBD and other products,” explains Hoelscher. “Parents need to be cautious about exposing them to any cannabis product.”

This encouragement has to do with child safety since prohibition has prevented widespread research for the pediatric applications of CBD, but also for the family’s safety in legal matters. As an attorney, Hoelsher’s concerns extend to child welfare as cannabis use can be seen as a potential argument for unsafe or neglectful parenting practices. Children could also fail to differentiate what kind of cannabis products are used in their home if they share about it at school, where teachers and administration are mandatory reporters of drug abuse.

In the case of CBD or other cannabis products used for medical purposes, he recommends that they are called just that—medicine. Just as you wouldn’t be casual with prescribed medications of any kind, cannabidiols and other hemp-derived products should be treated the same way.

“Just as you wouldn’t give your child your medicine for high blood pressure or diabetes, your children should be aware that your cannabis products are medications used under the supervision of a physician,” adds Patton.

What About Vape Pens and Edibles?

More caution might be necessary for certain kinds of CBD. For example, using vape pens and edibles in front of children. Although a vape pen might seem more discreet since it isn’t obvious what is inside, both Patton and Hoelscher discourage the use in front of children.

“Ingestion should be done discreetly and can likely happen without notice,” says Patton. “  Vaping and smoking can send a bit of a mixed message. If your child sees you vaping or smoking, they are more likely to participate in the same activity as they age.”

As Hoelscher points out, it is important to consider how vaping is perceived by children. Non-cannabis vape pens often contain nicotine, and parents will want to avoid unintentionally suggesting that those products are alright to use. Additionally, vape pens haven’t been proven to be safe or free of long term consequences.

“We don’t want to encourage the use of a potentially dangerous technology,” says Hoelscher.

Edibles are a completely different beast. While they may be a popular delivery method for CBD, they pose a specific risk to children because they look like candy, says Patton. They should always be out of sight in a locked container.

Having “The Talk”

As children grow into teens, it may feel appropriate to begin talking with them about cannabis, it’s different uses, and why it is a part of your life. What guidelines should be adopted for these conversations?

CBD and medical marijuana still come with a lot of stigma, as Patton points out. This can complicate a discussion with children who have been told about the dangers of drug use and alcohol. When talking with a child or teen, Patton recommends that parents continue to be upfront about the dangers of substance abuse and alcohol use while explaining that CBD and medical marijuana are being used as medication with the guidance of a doctor.

While you’re at it, it is a good idea to establish the difference between products that have a psychoactive effect and those that don’t.

“Parents should emphasize that cannabis has a significant impact on developing brains,” says Hoelscher. “Be wary of advocacy with your kids. We all want to advocate for reform, but your kids may see this as encouraging usage or inappropriately advocating, feeling like they’re sticking up for you. The best advocacy is normalization.”

Additionally, it is a good idea to talk about different social and legal issues concerning cannabis. It’s reasonable for a teen or young adult who is considering using of cannabis products, CBD or otherwise, to understand that not all products are legal, and even those that are may be met with resistance or disapproval in their social circles or at school.

“Encourage them to be respectful and discreet,” adds Hoelscher. “Let your kids know that attitudes are changing but not everyone agrees, just like plenty of folks disagree on political and social issues, generally.”

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