If a 3 year old finds a cookie on the table, they will likely eat it.
Even if it is made with marijuana or THC, CBD or other ingredients of cannabis.
As more states have legalized the use of marijuana and an ever larger selection of derivatives, it is not surprising that more children are exposed – including through the consumption of marijuana foods. A research report published in the journal Pediatrics found that between 2017 and 2019 there were 4,172 calls to regional poison centers for exposure to cannabis in babies and children up to the age of 9 years. About half of the calls were about groceries.
The frequency of these calls and the percentage related to food increased over the biennium. Unsurprisingly, exposures were about twice as common in states where marijuana is legal as in states where it isn’t.
More food calls with younger children
The most commonly affected age group was 3 to 5 year olds, which makes sense: at this age, they’re old enough for parents to take their eyes off them for a minute or two, but not old enough to understand why You shouldn’t be eating The Brownie, gummy bears or a piece of chocolate.
Fortunately, the effects of these exposures were mostly minor – but 15% were moderate and 1.4% were severe. In rare cases, significant ingestion can cause breathing difficulties or even coma. That’s the problem with food: it’s hard to know how much cannabis is in each, it’s easy to ingest, and the effects can last for a long time.
It’s also important to remember that this was just a study of calls to poison centers. It’s impossible to know how many exposures there were that were never reported – including the number that went completely unnoticed by parents or caregivers.
Safety first: children and cannabis
It is clear that there needs to be some regulations regarding labeling and child-resistant packaging. But as an immediate step, parents and others shouldn’t buy marijuana foods that may appeal to children (just as it’s best not to buy detergent pods that look like candy). Anytime you buy marijuana foods that a child may want to eat, keep it safe and out of reach.
If parents are bringing their children to visit friends, it might be a good idea to add marijuana foods to the list of safety issues to ask about. Think of something like, “Hey, our daughter is still small and curious, so we like to ask about things like matches, guns, medicines, marijuana foods, or anything else that could be dangerous to her if she did.” gets into it. Is there anything that might be within their reach? “
It might seem a little awkward, but doing it quickly and routinely can reduce the awkwardness. And ultimately, getting your child to safety is a bit of a hassle.
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