Over 3000 kids accidentally ate edible forms of marijuana
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in an increasing number of states in the U.S., more children have been eating cannabis edibles. According to the Washington Post, almost all exposures happen in residential settings.
To kids, they might look like a regular treat. Cannabis edibles are available in the form of colorful candies, like gummy bears. Sometimes they look like tasty treats, like cookies, brownies or chocolate. They’re almost indistinguishable from the regular products, especially without a wrapper. And apparently, these tempting snacks cause children to accidentally eat significant amounts of cannabis, resulting in marijuana poisoning.
Increase in cases
According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, the amount of cases of marijuana poisoning in 2017 among children under six, was 207. In 2021, this number rose to 3,054. The big change that occurred between 2017 and 2021, is the legalization of recreational marijuana in several states. The use of recreational cannabis products is now legal in 21 states and Washington D.C.. According to the NPR, a large amount of children found the drugs at home. Even though not all exposures lead to hospitalization, a staggering number of 22.7% kids needed to be admitted to the hospital. Eight percent of those children required critical care.
According to the Washington Post, the researchers who conducted the study have been focusing on the absence of laws governing the packaging of the cannabis ‘candies’. If the packages look less tempting and had warning labels, they might not be as attractive to children who come across the products in kitchen cabinets. Another measure that could be taken to decrease the risk of children getting poisoned, is lowering the dose of THC. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that causes the mental effects of the drug. The lack of regulations for the amount of THC allowed in products can cause the dosages to differ.
Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of the Poison Control Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told the Washington Post that the edibles should be treated like medication. “They should try not to eat them or use them in front of their children, because their children will mimic the behaviors. They want to store them in a secure place that’s out of sight and out of reach of children.”
If you notice that your child seems intoxicated and does not act like themselves, it is important to figure out whether the child has been exposed to edibles. If you suspect your child has eaten an edible, you can call your local poison center. Clinical toxicologist Varun Vohra warns parents: “Never make your child vomit. This can create downstream problems such as increasing the risk of aspiration and infection.” she told the Washington Post.