More kids in hospitals for eating marijuana edibles and treats containing THC

Every year, thousands of young children use and are sickened by edible marijuana products, which may look like regular candy or cookies – with nearly a quarter being admitted to hospital, according to a new study.

The number of children under the age of 6 – most were 2 or 3 – who accidentally consumed cannabis edibles rose from 207 cases in 2017 to 3,014 cases in 2021, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

Cases of children consuming marijuana treats have increased as more states pass laws allowing cannabis products for medical and recreational use. Currently, 37 states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes and 21 states allow some recreational use by adults.

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What are marijuana edibles?

The availability of marijuana edibles has increased since 2014, when Colorado became the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Edibles made with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, include gummies, chocolates, lollipops, cookies, and other baked goods.

“Many edibles containing THC look like treats that a child could easily mistake for a simple snack,” said study co-author Dr. Marit Tweet, an emergency physician and medical toxicologist at Southern Illinois. University School of Medicine, in a statement accompanying the study.

And kids don’t realize that each product can contain multiple doses of perhaps 10 milligrams of THC. “A child would not recognize the need to stop after 1 bite/segment/piece,” say the researchers. “Given the lower body weight of pediatric patients, a higher milligram/kilogram dose is ingested, putting children at increased risk of toxicity from these exposures.”

Candy bars marked with the new diamond-shaped stamp required by Colorado noting the product contains marijuana, are displayed in Denver Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. State officials are requiring the stamp to be affixed directly to edible products after complaints that the treats seem too much like their non-intoxicating counterparts.

How many children who have eaten marijuana edibles have been admitted to hospital?

USA Today

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