WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- New research revealed a sharp increase in cases involving young kids’ accidental ingestion of marijuana-laced edibles.
- The study linked the spike to increased access to marijuana use across the country.
- Some states have urged manufacturers to avoid packaging that would be mistaken for candy labeling.
As recreational or medical marijuana use gets legalized across more states in the U.S., the number of accidental ingestion of cannabis edibles by children has also increased, according to a new study.
A 1,375 percent increase was observed from 2017 to 2021 in accidental cannabis exposure to kids younger than 6. According to the National Poison Data System, only 207 cases were reported in 2017, while the number rose to 3,054 in 2021.
Back in 2017, recreational cannabis use was legalized in only eight states plus Washington, D.C., while medicinal use was legal in 30 states. In 2021, recreational use was allowed in 18 states while medical use was allowed in 29.
According to the study, the vast majority of the exposures occurred at home. Among those cases, 70 percent also reported central nervous system depression. The median age among kids was 3 years old.
Commonly reported symptoms included dizziness, poor concentration, drowsiness, slurred speech, and dry mouth.
The largest increase in cannabis exposure among kids, as well as more severe symptoms, was reported during 2020-2021. Researchers noted that school closures and more time spent at home during the COVID-19 lockdowns could have contributed to the spike.
Almost a quarter of all cases needed hospitalization. While admissions to the intensive care unit (ICU) stayed roughly the same during 2017-2021, non-ICU admissions increased significantly.
The study authors noted that several cannabis products look appealing to kids since they come in the form of candies, gummies, or cookies. For an average adult, the typical starting dose for cannabis edibles ranges from 2.5 to 10 mg of THC, but one package already contains multiple doses.
Since children are unaware of the substance’s effects, they may not be able to stop themselves from consuming multiple doses when mistaking the products for candy. Furthermore, their smaller weight puts them at higher risk for increased toxicity.
Parents, guardians, and caregivers are advised to store their cannabis products in locked containers in a location unknown to children.
Some states have urged manufacturers to make their packaging less appealing to kids to prevent accidental consumption. California, for instance, bans cannabis labels with designs attractive to children, such as those with cartoons or candy-like labeling.
Source: The Hill