Join Mims Blog to Research ”
Why You Should Read the Labels of Medical Cannabis Products Before Giving Them to Your Kids ”
In the US, about 100,000 children suffer from intractable epilepsy. The word intractable denotes that it isn’t easily relieved or managed. It occurs when the medicines prescribed cause extreme side effects, don’t work, or stop working.
Many parents have resorted to the use of medical cannabis to treat this severe illness. Studies conducted also reviewed the effectiveness of medical cannabis products to treat anxiety, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
Cannabis products have not been extensively tested for use in children so all of their side effects are unknown. It is therefore essential that when you decide to use it on your children that you know exactly what it contains.
You must read the labels of the products you use to ensure that they are safe for your children. Read on to find out what you need to look for including the warning signs that may indicate that some producers are withholding information about the products their selling.
What Is Medical Cannabis?
Medical cannabis is also referred to as medical marijuana. The common plant name is cannabis sativa. A doctor will usually recommend it to treat certain medical conditions.
There are two main components in cannabis – cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD – Is an essential component and the second most dominant active ingredient in cannabis. CBD, on its own, does not cause a ‘high’ and shows no effects to indicate the potential for abuse or dependency according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It’s well-known for treating Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome. Both are childhood epilepsy syndromes. In some cases, CBD was able to stop the symptoms altogether. CBD is also used to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
There are also cannabis pain relief products available for children that suffer from chronic pain.
THC – Unlike CBD, this component found in cannabis can cause psychological effects in the human body, or a ‘high’. It stimulates brain cells to produce dopamine which creates euphoria. It can also affect how the brain processes information.
Its effects start about 10 to 30 minutes after ingestion and can last for two hours. It causes hallucinations, delusions and can change the user’s thinking. It can also impair motor skills.
Cannabis Products Used to Treat Kids
Cannabis products, especially ones for kids come in various forms to make them easier to take. They include:
CBD Oil – Often comes in different potencies. They’re often sold as capsules but the oil is usually placed below the tongue for treatment. It has an earthy aftertaste that children may consider unpleasant. Flavored options are available as well.
Some oils also contain Delta 8 which exists naturally in cannabis. It reduces anxiety and pain. Find more info here.
Gummies – Help make the CBD oil taste better as it is infused into the sweet-tasting gummies.
Transdermal Patches – Allow a consistent level of CBD to enter your bloodstream over a period of time. The CBD in the patch penetrates the skin.
As with other children’s medications, ensure any cannabis products you purchase have child-resistant packaging that is not transparent. Keep out of the reach of your children in a locked cabinet. Especially in the case of CBD-infused gummies, because children can mistake them for candy.
Basic Label Requirements for Cannabis Products
Despite the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes in 36 states, there is very little regulation of the industry at the federal level. The exception is the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) which has issued specific guidelines about cannabis products in any form, whether oils, creams, or edibles.
There are specific FDA requirements for each. Most of the other regulatory requirements are at the state level and vary from state to state.
You must know FDA requirements as well as those in your state, especially regarding labeling and packaging. Here are a few things the packaging and label should include:
General Packaging Design
Most states specify that labeling should not appeal to children and should not be brightly colored. It should not be similar to any other food product or include any cartoon character. The actual packaging should be child-resistant, non-transparent, and resealable.
Brand Logo and Statement of Identity
Both the logo and statement of identity should be on the front of the product label. The statement of identity informs you about the product. It states whether the product is an oil, gummy, or cream. The labeling should be clear enough that you know immediately that it is a cannabis product.
Nutrition and Supplement Facts
Once the product is consumable, it should have a facts panel. This should include daily value percentage, serving size, and other relevant information. It’s usually placed to the right of the statement of identity and should be easy-to-read.
Product Weight and Net Contents
The weight of the product should be indicated with both US Customary System units (pounds, ounces, fluid ounces) or metric (liters, grams, milliliters, kilograms). The pharmacologically active ingredients should be in milligrams per serving, per package.
This information is usually at the bottom of the front panel, parallel to the base of the package.
This includes the name and address of the product manufacturer, packer, or distributor. You should be able to contact the company in the event of any adverse reactions or to find out any other information about the product. It should also indicate who to call if there is consumption of more than the recommended dose or serving.
These include the date of cultivation, manufacture, sale, and expiration if any. There should also be a best by date, if applicable.
There are specific warnings included on the label, depending on the state where the product is being sold. Some of the more common ones include:
- Allergen warnings
- That the product is a Schedule I Controlled Substance
- The age requirements for use of the product or any exceptions
- If medical, it should state that it is for medical use only
- That it may cause impairment when operating a vehicle or machinery
- That use while breastfeeding or pregnant might be harmful
- That it may be habit-forming or addictive
There are also a few other warning requirements.
For topical or ingestible products, a list of the common name of the product’s ingredients should be to the right of the statement of identity. They’re usually listed in order of weight – heaviest to lightest.
In addition to a list of the ingredients, the label should also include the results of lab testing done on the product.
The Importance of Lab Results on a Cannabis Product
To protect consumers, cannabis products undergo extensive testing. Testing provides proof that the product is what it states it is regarding safety, potency, and purity.
These results should be included on the label, especially for children’s products, as some items found after testing can be harmful. However, many products have limited information.
If you want to access detailed lab results for a product, it’s usually in the form of a Certificate of Analysis (COA) for a specific batch (batch number or QR code) of a product. A COA can inform you about the safety of the product. You should ensure that you can access the lab results, especially for a children’s product.
Here are a few things to look for when reviewing a product’s lab results.
THC, CBD, and Cannabinoids
These are the active substances present in different strains that determine the psychological and physiological effects the product may have. Labels will normally show the levels of each, which will determine the product’s potency. Other important substances that fall into this category include CBG, THCa, CBC, THCV, CBN, and CBDa.
Terpenes include terpinolene, myrcene, and limonene. The levels of these in products are sometimes provided but aren’t commonly found in lab test results. Terpenes affect the aroma and flavor of the product.
They may be intentionally removed from some, although desirable in others.
The moisture in the product may determine its consistency. Content that’s too low (below 5%) will tend to be brittle and dry which makes it less enjoyable. A higher level of moisture (above 15%) increases the chances of bacteria and fungi growth on the product.
Moisture levels are usually stated on the COA of some products such as cannabis buds.
These can also be present as a result of high moisture levels. These growths can include yeast, mold, E. coli, and salmonella. Testing ensures the product meets set standards.
If levels of residual solvents are high they may cause harmful side effects including organ failure, cardiac damage, headaches, or vomiting. Depending on the state, the acceptable levels of solvents will vary. Some solvents are left behind during the extraction process which is a method uses in cannabis production.
Common solvents include xylenes, butanes, benzene, and propane.
Other compounds that may be lab-tested include treatment agents such as common pesticides which could end up in the final product.
Heavy metals are extremely toxic to humans because the body can’t efficiently remove them. They absorb into the plant from contaminated soil or fertilizers. They include mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium.
Any presence of heavy metals should be in the COA.
If you buy cannabis products online, you should also be able to access all of the information mentioned above before purchasing the item. Any manufacturer that doesn’t want to provide lab test results may not want you to view something in the results or it might be that the product hasn’t been tested. Consider this a red flag.
However, also bear in mind, that due to inconsistency in testing throughout the industry, some labs may not deliver accurate data.
The Proof Is in the Data
The statistics from testing conducted by the FDA between 2014 and 2019, prove the importance of lab testing and that you should review product labels in detail before purchasing.
The FDA tested 78 products marketed for humans as well as pets. It focused on products from less than credible companies. This included companies that:
- Produced and sold products across several states
- Made unvalidated health claims about their products
- Sold their products online
- Sold products that caused adverse effects
Out of the 78 products, 88% contained cannabinoids but only 86% claimed to contain CBD. Some of the products also had THC and cannabinoids which they hadn’t stated on their labels.
They also tested cannabis beauty products in 2019. Out of 41 cosmetic products tested, although 14 indicated specific CBD concentrates on their labels, eight of these contained less than 80% of the amount listed.
Also, within 20% of the CBD amount specified was in only four of the 14 products. Two of the products had more than 120% of the amount indicated. Twelve of the products also contained THC even though it wasn’t stated on the label.
Conversely, 68 cosmetic products that claimed to have hemp oils didn’t contain any measurable cannabinoids after testing.
Even if the margin of error is small in some of these cases, it could be the difference between relief or extremely adverse side effects. It’s not a chance you would want to take with your child’s health.
Ensuring the Right Cannabis Product for Your Child
Cannabis products provide relief for many children with specific medical conditions. However, as the industry continues to grow, regulation is becoming more and more important. This will hold manufacturers to specific standards that ensure your child is protected when using these products.
The Mom Blog Society cares about the physical and mental well-being of your child. We provide information that can assist you in making informed decisions about products. Visit our site for technology, nutrition, and parenting tips to help you and your child live your best life.
Why You Should Read the Labels of Medical Cannabis Products Before Giving Them to Your Kids