Please act to protect children and youth by signing AB 1207 (Irwin), the Cannabis Candy Child Safety Act, supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics - California, the American College of Emergency Physicians - California Chapter, The California Society of Addiction Medicine, California State Parent Teacher Association, Public Health Institute, Youth Forward, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara, Santa Barbara and Marin Counties, the LA Times and 40+ other youth advocacy, substance abuse and public health organizations.
As California’s legal cannabis market matures, exposure to cannabis marketing, and the range and popularity of cannabis products, have grown with it. When voters approved 2016’s Proposition 64 - the California ballot measure to legalize marijuana - one of its clearly identified intentions was that “Marijuana products shall be: Not designed to be appealing to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods that do not contain marijuana."
But we failed to put in place adequate regulations and systems to assess and prevent products from being attractive to children or marketed to kids. Predictably, children’s safety took a backseat to the marketplace.
The result? The proliferation of hundreds of products in legal commerce with characteristics of candies and foods typically marketed to or known to attract children and youth in their physical form, name, packaging and/or labeling. Such as packaging and ads with cartoons, celebrities and young people who appear to be teens. This has led to:
- Annual cannabis exposures reported to California Poison Control increased from below 200 in 2010 to over 1600 by 2020; 50% involved children, half below age 12; ingestion of gummies, candies, chocolate and drinks increased significantly. In contrast, there were only 16 total reported gummy exposures between 2010 and 2015 vs. 409 in 2020 alone.
- At Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, children under age 10 testing positive for THC quadrupled since 2016, mostly from edibles, of which three quarters were from candies or gummies. Half led to hospitalization and one in ten to intensive care, associated with $15 million in expenditures over the period in just that one hospital, three quarters from MediCal.
- Nationally, edible cannabis poisonings of children six and under increased 1,375% between 2017 and 2021, growing in severity. Many resulted in intensive care or mechanical ventilation, and even though uncommon, in death.
Laws and regulations must also evolve alongside this new market to ensure the safety of our children and youth. No one should go to jail for cannabis possession, but no young child should wind up in the emergency room because they mistakenly ate cannabis-laced gummies either, nor should a teen be drawn into vaping cannabis by cartoon characters.
AB 1207 (Irwin) - The Child Cannabis Candy Safety Act - would honor the promise and intent of Proposition 64 by taking common sense steps to create a safer, legal cannabis market by saying no to packaging and advertising attractive to children. Other states have taken far stronger actions like requiring plain packaging of cannabis products, AB 1207 simply prohibits the most egregious practices. The state should have required these measures from day one of legalization to comply with the intent of Prop 64.
For these reasons I strongly support AB 1207 and urge you to sign AB 1207 into law. Californians are relying on you to protect our children and youth, save public funds and help shape a safer, legal cannabis market.