Marijuana Laws: Colorado Bans Pot Gummy Bears Because Children Think They Are Candy

The number of children who have accidentally eaten weed gummies has increased in Colorado following the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Colorado lawmakers hope to make getting high less appealing to children by banning animal-, people- and fruit-shaped gummies. House Bill 16-1436 went into effect this weekend, prohibiting the sale of specific marijuana candies in an effort to prevent kids from consuming them.

ABC News reports that state lawmakers decided to ban the shapes because even adults had a difficult time differentiating between regular and weed gummies at a meeting to discuss the issue.

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"That really highlighted that we need to take some action here and make sure these products are not to be mistaken, particularly anyone under the age of 21," Mike Hartman, director of Colorado's Department of Revenue, told the media outlet.

Edibles in geometric shapes, like stars, are allowed. But the potency needs to be highlighted, so consumers are clear about strength. It must be noted in a font that's at least two sizes larger than the typography on the rest of the label. The print must be at least 10-point font, bold and either highlighted or framed in a circle or square.

"These regulations reflect extensive stakeholder input focused on public safety and legislative intent. Marijuana products in shape and branding should not be enticing to children and we want consumers to be educated about the potency of the products they are buying, these rules ensure that to be the case," Hartman said in the post. "This is an important step in maximizing the State's public health and safety by keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors and raising consumer awareness."

Of course, many will gripe about the new ban. But there is strong evidence that kids have accidentally ingested THC-infused gummies. According to a paper published last year in JAMA, pediatric marijuana exposure increased significantly in Colorado, by 34 percent, compared with the rest of the United States between 2009 and 2015. The state legalized the sale of recreational weed in 2012.

Other states are working to make edibles less appealing to kids too. In California, Assembly Bill 350 restricts the sale of edibles in the shape of people, animals, insects or fruit. Across the United States, there have been numerous reports of kids getting sick after ingesting marijuana disguised as candy. Following a quinceañera party in San Francisco, 19 teens became sick from ingesting edibles, and a 10-year-old boy in New York fell ill after eating weed gummies found in his father's truck.

Some may argue that it's up to the parents to monitor their kids, but it's impossible to ensure that children won't find the hidden stash, Sergeant Jim Gerhardt of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, told the Today show. "Kids are going to be enticed by this. They're going to want to get into this stuff. Banning it is the only way to deal with it."