Oklahoma voters rejected legalization of recreational marijuana (State Question 820) early this month for countless reasons. The data showed a dramatic shift from the approved 2018 medical marijuana question.
Maybe voters were overwhelmed at dispensaries on every city block or mass murder at illegal grow sites, or reports of babies eating drug infused edibles. They should be. Edible products often resemble regular treats, including gummies, chocolates, lollipops, and brownies. According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, the number of small children who accidentally ate marijuana edibles increased 1,375% between 2017 and 2021. It is a serious problem both rural and urban.
The effects of accidental marijuana ingestion depend on how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the child consumes. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. In other words, it’s the ingredient that makes you feel high. Because kids weigh less than adults, they may be more vulnerable to the effects of THC.
They are also more likely than adults to ingest high amounts of THC. That’s because many edible cannabis products contain multiple adult servings of THC. For instance, a single chocolate bar may have multiple 10 mg THC servings. While a responsible adult would know to only eat one piece of chocolate at a time, a small child might eat the whole bar.
Children who ingest small amounts of THC may only experience mild effects, namely drowsiness and red eyes. Children who ingest large amounts may develop more serious symptoms, such as:
- poor balance and coordination
- nausea and vomiting
- increased heart rate
- trouble breathing
Such symptoms often lead to hospital admission. Of the 7,043 children who ingested edibles in the Pediatrics study, 22.7% were admitted to the hospital.
Children who are regularly exposed to marijuana smoke face a higher risk of memory problems and lower IQ. However, researchers have not yet determined the long-term effects of edible exposure.
What To Do If Your Child Accidentally Eats Edible Marijuana
If you think your child has ingested an edible marijuana product, try to stay calm. If your child is experiencing any physical or psychological changes, call 911 or head to the emergency room right away. If your child is not experiencing any changes, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.
In either case, you will be asked how much marijuana your child consumed. To figure this out, try to remember how much product was in the package when you last saw it and how much remains. You should also check the package for information on the type and amount of THC the product contains.
How To Keep Your Child Safe
Due to the rise in accidental marijuana ingestions, many parents, caregivers, and pediatricians are urging the edible cannabis industry to use safer, child-resistant packaging. Plain, white packages would be far less tempting to kids than the current packages, which are often colorful and sometimes identical to brand name treats. In the meantime, you can help your child avoid marijuana edibles by taking these steps:
Store Edibles Safely
Store your edibles the same way you would store any medications or other potentially dangerous substances. In other words, lock them in child-proof containers, and place them somewhere your kids can’t reach. Kids will often mimic your behavior. That’s why you should never eat edibles in front of them.
Talk To Family & Friends
In most cases of accidental marijuana ingestion, the edibles were purchased by the child’s parents. However, some kids also ingest edibles that belong to other people, including babysitters, neighbors, and relatives. Make sure all the adults and teens in your child’s life know how to prevent, identify, and respond to edible cannabis exposure.
If you or someone you love struggles with marijuana abuse, please reach out. The Ark Behavioral Health specialists provide medical detox, behavioral therapy, and other evidence-based treatments to aid recovery from drug abuse and addiction.
The Oklahoma University Health Services reports edibles are a serious risk to children, “In 2020, marijuana-related calls involving children jumped to 126 cases, up from just 13 in 2018. Reasons for the increase may be related to increased use of marijuana, people feeling more comfortable reporting adverse effects related to marijuana use or parents not storing marijuana products up and away from children.”