So it turns that, when it comes to marketing its products to children, the cannabis industry is every bit as irresponsible as the lowlifes who try to hook kids on tobacco products at an early age.
Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, has the solution. Her Assembly Bill 1207 would have curtailed the disgraceful practice of creating and selling cannabis products in a manner that is attractive to children. We’re talking about flavoring marijuana cigarettes and vaping products. And psychoactive candies and snacks that resemble Doritos chips, Oreo cookies and Cocoa Pebbles.
The bill should have had bipartisan support from the Legislature. It passed the Assembly without a single vote of opposition. But a Senate Committee this week watered it down. The cannabis industry managed to convince senators to strip out the provisions prohibiting flavoring of inhaled products.
It’s the same sort of prohibition that voters, with passage last year of Proposition 31, applied to tobacco products. If Californians don’t want their children lured by flavored inhaled tobacco, they certainly don’t want them lured by flavored pot.
In 2016, when Proposition 64 was put before voters, the measure assured that marijuana products would not be designed “to be appealing to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods that do not contain marijuana.”
Senators should fix the damage they have done by reinstating in AB 1207 the prohibition on flavored inhaled marijuana products. The full Senate should then pass the repaired bill, and Gov. Gavin Newsom should sign it.
Sadly, the cannabis industry is just as happy to target children as Big Tobacco. It took years before California lawmakers beat back the tobacco industry’s lobbying efforts and in 2020 approved state Sen. Jerry Hill’s SB 793, banning flavored inhaled products. Even that didn’t end the fight, because the tobacco industry forced the issue to last year’s ballot.
And the Legislature hasn’t gotten voters’ message in 2016 that they don’t want pot targeted at their kids. It’s one thing to back legalizing marijuana products for adults. But senators’ support of the effort by the cannabis industry to help market products aimed at children is shameful.
A 2019 National Study of Drug Use and Health found the percentage of people over age 12 years who were marijuana users within the past year increased from 25.8 million in 2002 to 48.2 million in 2019. The study found that the number of adolescents who initiated marijuana use in the previous year averaged nearly 4,000 adolescents each day.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that many are at increased risk of hospitalization because they do not realize that products infused with marijuana can take from 30 minutes to 2 hours before taking effect, leading to additional consumption and a greater risk of poisoning.
The cannabis industry should be taking the initiative in protecting youth. Instead, they are flaunting the measure voters approved in 2016 legalizing pot, putting profit before children’s health by marketing flavored inhaled products and edibles that mimic kids’ favorite candy, soda and snacks.
It’s time for the Legislature and the governor to end this outrageous practice before more children are harmed. It’s time for them to be the adults in the room.
𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆: www.mercurynews.com
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