Dramatic rise in number of children accidentally eating marijuana edibles

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. The Upstate New York Poison Center has seen an increase in the number of calls for children and teens who have eaten marijuana edibles. The rate of calls for children and teens 19-years-old and younger who have consumed a cannabis-containing food product, is almost six times more than four years ago.

The drastic change from 2019 to 2022 is even higher when you look at just children five and under. The Upstate New York Poison Center handled only seven cases in 2019, and as of August this year, they have received 64 calls for children five years old and younger eating edibles.

“There are multiple factors at play as for why we are seeing an increase in calls. Some of the biggest reasons why we think there is this increase is because these products are more readily available and many products have enticing packaging,” says Dr. Vince Calleo, medical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center. “No matter the reason, our number one concern right now is for the pediatric population because marijuana can have serious effects on their small bodies.”

Because edible THC products often look like candy or sweets, children tend to eat more than what is considered a single “dose” for an adult. It is important to remember that unlike smoked marijuana, the effects of edibles may not kick in for almost 90 minutes. Pediatric exposures to edible THC products often require a trip to a doctor or hospital. In young children, marijuana can cause changes in blood pressure and heart rate, severe tiredness, trouble breathing and even coma.

Calleo says, “It’s easy to forget and leave something out on a table or a counter, but please remember to treat marijuana products just like a dangerous medication. Kids are curious and can’t normally tell the difference between products with and without THC. Up high and out of reach of children is the best place to store all cannabis-related products. Placing THC edibles in medication lock boxes can decrease the chances of children accidentally eating them.”

If you are over 21 and choose to have marijuana edibles (i.e., gummies, cannabis oil for baking, weed candies) remember:

  1. Keep all marijuana containing products up high and out of reach of children
  2. Consider buying a medication lock box. You can get a free one here.
  3. The Upstate NY Poison Center number is 1-800-222-1222
  4. If you suspect a child has swallowed any form of marijuana, call the Poison Center or 911 immediately. Symptoms/reactions are often delayed.