EARLY YEARS: Experts encouraging parents to push state legislators for earlier regulation of sale of marijuana products

Without a legal marketplace, some worry there could be larger amounts of THC than what’s on labels
Experts concerned about false information on some marijuana product labels, putting kids at risk
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:18 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - You might recall WDBJ7′s story from last October about two-year-old Maya, who was hospitalized after accidentally ingesting the Delta-8 form of THC, from what she thought was cereal.

Even after she went home from the hospital, she was far from okay.

”She would eat, but she can’t talk. She wouldn’t answer. She would just stare, if she’s even awake. She can’t even open her eyes for more than 30 seconds,” says Maya’s mom, Amina Serir.

When we recently followed up with Maya’s mother, she says the little girl still sometimes suffers from hallucinations.

It’s cautionary tales like this one that many experts hope will resonate with parents.

They’re also encouraging state legislators to pass laws for faster regulation of sales.

“We have to get the legislators on board, but we also have to invest in our community. Schools, churches, substance treatment facilities, to raise awareness,” says forensic toxicologist Michelle Peace, who’s done extensive research on marijuana and its effects.

Raising awareness is the mission of the group, Virginians for Safe Cannabis, which just launched a Facebook page.

“You have these things popping up in gas stations, convenience stores, vape shops. In many cases, they’re purchasing it from other states, where other things are legal, and then they bring it here and they slap a sticker over it on top of the actual label,” says Jay Smith, with Virginians for Safe Cannabis.

Smith says the gap of time between legalization and the anticipated start of regulated sales provides an opportunity for illicit marketing and distribution.

In many cases, you can’t trust what’s on the labels.

“It’s really a shame that without regulation, you can’t even trust the packaging. So, it’s not about read your labels and understand what’s in it, because the labels can’t be trusted,” says Smith.

Just the appearance of the packaging can also be misleading for adults.

“I’ll even say from an adult standpoint, they have products that look like a bag of Doritos that, I as an adult could easily confuse,” says Smith. “There are some cases where it would be even dangerous for an adult, because they may say it contains this amount of cannabis product, when really it’s three times that amount.”

For more information about local efforts to educate families about THC, as well as other substances and their risks, click here.

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