Stricter controls needed after surge in marijuana ills: U.S. anti-pot group

Mon Jan 5, 2015 8:36pm EST
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By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The number of children treated annually for accidental pot consumption in Colorado has reached double-digits and a drug treatment chain has seen a surge of teens treated for cannabis abuse, a leading U.S. anti-marijuana group said on Monday.

In a report, marijuana legalization foe Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) also pointed to higher-than-average use in the first states to sanction recreational cannabis, Colorado and Washington state, and an increase in burns from butane hash oil production.

"We need a pumping-of-the-brakes on the marijuana industry," SAM's president, Kevin Sabet, said in an interview. "When we have hospitalizations and burns and deaths, we need to stop many of these products from being sold."

The report comes amid rapidly shifting state laws governing marijuana use. Voters in four U.S. states opted to legalize its recreational use, most recently in Oregon and Alaska. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Legalization opponents say Washington state and Colorado have been flooded with dangerous products, from infused candies and concentrates, many far stronger than what might have been smoked in the 1960s.

At least 14 Colorado children ages 3 to 7 were sent to hospitals in the first half of 2014 for accidentally ingesting marijuana products, compared with eight in 2013 and four between 2008 and 2011, SAM said of state data.

In Colorado, teen marijuana abuse treatment at about a dozen Arapahoe House Denver-area facilities increased by 66 percent between 2011 and 2014, SAM cited that group as reporting.

Separately on Monday, Colorado health officials announced a $4 million Internet, television and radio public-education campaign aimed at exposing the dangers of cannabis-infused products and aspects of the law.   Continued...

A grower holds out a product at the High Times U.S. Cannabis Cup in Seattle, Washington September 8, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Redmond