When cannabis edibles are made to look like candy, the upswing in the number of cases where children accidentally consume the drug is no surprise. Imagine you’re a hungry kid looking for a snack, and you come across cookies, brownies or gummy candies. A young child may not be able to tell the difference between real candy and cannabis candy, and accidentally eat all three.
A recent study found that there has been a higher number of children under twelve hospitalized due to severe reactions to cannabis exposure. The study also mentioned the main avenue of child exposure to cannabis edibles was improper storage.
The Cannabis Act
The Cannabis Act provides strict legal parameters regarding the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada. Their aim is to:
- Keep cannabis out of the hands of youth.
- Keep profits out of the pockets of criminals.
- Protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis.
There are other measures in the Cannabis Act that make it difficult for youth to access the drug, including; age restrictions, and severely limiting the promotion or advertisement of cannabis, or cannabis related items.
Age restriction: No person may sell or provide cannabis to any person under the age of 18.
There are 2 criminal offences related to providing cannabis to youth*:
- Giving or selling cannabis to youth
- Using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence
*maximum penalties of 14 years in jail:
The Cannabis Act prohibits:
- The packaging or labelling cannabis in a way that makes it appealing to youth.
- The selling of cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines.
- The promoting of cannabis (except where young people could not see the promotion, ie: inside a cannabis store).
Penalties for violating these prohibitions include a fine of up to $5 million or 3 years in jail.
“It Happened So Quickly”
Cannabis edibles can be very dangerous if they end up in the hands of young children. A Manitoba mother told CTV News in 2019 that her two-year-old started having seizures and had to be put on a ventilator after her five-year-old brother shared a cannabis-laced chocolate bar that he found in the kitchen.
Kids are more vulnerable to cannabis poisoning because of their small size and lower weight. Not only can the psychoactive ingredients in THC have a stronger, more prolonged effect on them, ingestion of cannabis is the most common cause of cannabis poisoning in children.
Cannabis FACT: An adult 19 years of age or older in Ontario can legally possess 150 grams of fresh cannabis or 30 grams of dried cannabis.
One gram of dried cannabis is equal to:
- 5 grams of fresh cannabis.
- 15 grams of edible product.
- 70 grams of liquid product.
- 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid).
1 cannabis plant seed.
Parents, Proper Cannabis Storage is up to You
It’s a given that parents who use cannabis will say it’s their responsibility to safely store their products, however, according to a national Ipsos survey commissioned by Parachute – a national charity dedicated to injury prevention, only one in four do so properly.
“Society and the law expect people to take reasonable precautions.” says Joshua Clarke, Lawyer and Managing Director of Armoured Suits. “Every person has to think to themselves, ‘ I need to prevent my kids from consuming this’, and if you don’t take those steps, you could be found guilty of a criminal offence.”
The Consequences of Criminal Negligence
If a child becomes ill after eating a cannabis infused product, depending on the nature of the case, there could be serious consequences.
The Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, defines criminal negligence as follows:
219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.
(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.
This offence, when it causes the death of a person, carries a maximum life sentence (with a minimum prison term of 4 years if the offence involves a firearm) under s 220 of the Criminal Code.
Anyone who causes bodily harm to another person by criminal negligence is guilty of an indictable offence, punishable by up-to 10 years in jail. If someone is killed by criminal negligence, then the maximum punishment is life imprisonment.
Safe storage tips for edibles and other cannabis products:
- Keep cannabis products in their original, child-resistant packaging.
- Make sure cannabis products are properly resealed and re-stored after use.
- Store cannabis products where children can’t see or reach them.
- Avoid using cannabis products in front of children.
It is common sense that cannabis products should be out of sight and out of reach of children. However, statistics are indicating that cannabis and cannabis related products are within easy reach of kids as a direct result of parental oversight, or neglect.
To avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital or jail, keep your stash in a child-resistant container, stored in a locked compartment, drawer, or placed in a high cupboard. Pun intended
If you have been charged with any cannabis offence and would like to speak to a lawyer about your rights, we also offer a free 30-minute phone consultation to answer all of your questions. Contact us by phone at 613-233-0008 or e-mail at [email protected] to schedule your meeting