Health officials offer residents free marijuana lockboxes

Barry County

HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials in Barry and Eaton counties are offering residents free lockboxes to safely store marijuana products.

“It was a really great way to protect our communities,” Lauren Metcalfe, community health promotion specialist at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department, said.

It’s part of the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s harm reduction campaign called Weed Facts, which is aimed at keeping vulnerable kids, adults and pets from exposure to cannabis.

All 76 lockboxes available from the department are paid for by the state.

“The lockboxes are really to promote safety,” Metcalfe said.

As marijuana use, both medical and recreational, has increased, Metcalfe told News 8 there has been an increase in calls to poison control centers for children and pets. Spectrum Health doctors said they, too, are seeing a spike in the number of kids showing up to the hospital with symptoms suggesting they have consumed marijuana.

“It’s not a pleasant feeling for them,” said Dr. Erica Michiels, associate medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

She said the kids show signs of agitation and may lose consciousness.

Doctors’ biggest worry is edibles that can look to kids like gummy bears.

“It’s also understanding that if my 2-year-old eats all the gummies in the package, that is a potential lethal overdose for that 2-year-old,” Michiels said.

While the effects of exposure are still being studied, it is clear that marijuana impacts adult and child brains differently. That’s why health officials want adults to keep that substance away from kids.

“Make good decisions,” Metcalfe said.

Residents who are interested can pick up the lockboxes at BEDHD’s Charlotte and Hastings locations. Only one lockbox per household. The health department noted that staff will not collect any personal information.

BEDHD also encouraged those who want help trying to quit using marijuana to call their local Community Mental Health office. The Barry County office can be reached at 269.948.8041 and the Eaton County office at 517.346.8200.