Media Fearmongering Making Public Nervous About Edibles
The media can be a valuable source of information, but it often either gets things wrong or blatantly misrepresents stories and trends, knowing it will gain views. In the case of cannabis edibles, sources like Global News have opted for the latter.
WeedAdvisor has also covered the issue of cannabis edible poisoning on multiple occasions. However, our perspective is a criticism of the grey market and those that use it to buy high-potency products that can be dangerous to adults and children if consumed in excess.
The media, on the other hand, attempted to not only lump legal edibles (which will be very low in THC) with their illegal counterparts. They also often connected these poisonings with legalization, despite the fact that none of the products involved were legal.
The reality is that the media has it wrong. Thanks to its misrepresentation and over-reporting about poisonings, public opinion about cannabis edibles has shifted in a negative way. This means that it will not only harm sales, but deter certain people who could benefit from their medicinal properties.
Sadly, the hysteria could have been avoided if reporters had looked into earlier statistics, rather than focused on these isolated incidents.
A Consistent Trend
Before October, 2018, mainstream media reports on cannabis poisoning were sparse. So much so, in fact that, according to an August 28 article in CBC News, Alberta and Ontario are the only provinces which offer any solid data on cannabis poisonings and hospitalizations.
But if we look at the statistics from 2013 through to 2018, we see a consistent upswing in the number of reported incidents of cannabis. Admittedly, the biggest spike occurred between 2017 and 2018. However, the trend of increased instances of cannabis poisoning began long before Bill C-45 was even drafted.
The gradual increase in THC poisoning can be traced back to the days of the Harper administration. A report by the Durham Region Health Department showed that emergency department visits gradually increased year-over-year in Ontario from 2008 to 2017 – occurring more commonly in males.
Similar to the report from CBC News, the biggest spike occurred recently, in this case starting in 2015, hitting its peak in 2017, when Durham’s data ends.
Ultimately, this tells us that legalization may have had a small part to play in this increase, but not nearly to the point that we have been led to believe. THC poisoning has always been a gradually worsening issue and would likely have continued that way, regardless off marijuana’s legal status.
In a previous article, we covered various reasons as to why edible poisonings were being blamed on the wrong thing.
In the interest of not repeating everything, we will simply summarize. For a more detailed explanation, click here to read the article.
After legalization, calls to poison control about children consuming THC products increased substantially. However, as we pointed out in that article, this could be because cannabis is no longer illegal. Individuals are more likely to report these incidents if legal consequences are not a concern.
The products responsible for these poisonings are not legal. The edibles in these horror stories often contained enormous amounts of THC, several times higher than the 10mg legal limit. Those products existed long before legalization, so blaming legal edibles is frankly absurd.
THC poisoning would not be an issue if everyone fully understood how to handle edibles. Legal or not, children are poisoned because parents lack the common sense or presence of mind to keep these edibles hidden and locked away. Thanks to their irresponsibility, edibles in general are taking the fall.
Legalization Helps Guide Proper Use
A major problem with prohibition is that the grey market creates a veritable “Wild West” when it comes to navigating cannabis edibles. But when sold legally in dispensaries, new users will have access to staff who understand how edibles work and will therefore be able to provide guidance.
Another consideration is the media’s approach to these stories. Edibles are about to become legal, so it makes sense for news outlets to report on the topic. While we are not suggesting that the news needs to avoid covering the issue of THC poisoning, we do believe that they have latched on to the topic, often wording their articles in such a way that blames legalization.
WeedAdvisor’s Emphasis on Fair Reporting
WeedAdvisor does not deny that THC can be dangerous, especially to young children. We also understand that there are health risks to THC and cannabis, which should always be known so that users can make informed choices.
What we do not agree with, however, is the media sensationalizing a topic until it breeds fear to the point of drastically affecting public opinion. Ultimately, however, it is up to the average person to take these stories as learning experiences, not “proof” that edible legalization is a bad idea.