The number of young children poisoned by eating their parents’ pot brownies has soared 320% to record highs.
Dr. Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told DailyMail.com that she has seen a significant increase in the number of children exposed to cannabis in recent years.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found a significant increase in the number of children under the age of 11 accidentally consuming cannabis edibles after legalization of marijuana in all 18 states, District of Columbia, Mariana Islands North and Guam.
Calello said that every time a drug or substance was made more available, there was an increased number of poisonings, “and when you make it as appealing as edible cannabis…”
Calello said the problem with edibles is that they look like candies or treats like brownies or cakes, which makes them irresistible to young children. A child was also likely to eat an entire ‘candy bar’ of edibles – which would be multiple doses.
The number of young children poisoned by eating their parents’ pot brownies has soared 320% to record highs (stock image)
She said she’s seen a national and local trend of children being exposed to edibles after more states choose to legalize or decriminalize cannabis.
New Jersey voted to legalize marijuana in 2020, which saw police and residents soften their stance on the drug until it was finally enacted in February 2021.
National incidences of edible cannabis poisonings
CHILDREN UNDER FIVE
CHILDREN FROM 6 TO 12 YEARS
“We saw a big jump (in poisonings) in 2020,” Calello said, adding that more people being home and trying to ease their anxiety during the pandemic shutdowns could also have affected the numbers.
New Jersey Poison Control’s medical director also dismissed the idea that weed was harmless and the myth that someone can’t overdose on marijuana.
“It can be dangerous for a child,” she told us. “Seizures in adults are extremely rare, but in children they need much less to get very sick.”
Calello added that she personally cared for a child who had a seizure due to a cannabis overdose and another who needed to be on a ventilator.
Even mild symptoms can be extremely distressing for a young child.
In 2021, the New Jersey Poison Control Center assisted in the treatment of 150 children – including 99 under the age of five – who ate cannabis edibles.
For children under five, this figure fell from 73 in 2020 to just 31 cases in 2019. In the space of two years, the number of incidents increased by 320%.
Nationally, cases have increased in recent years, from 187 cases in children aged 6 to 12 in 2016 to 370 in 2019.
But cases then exploded between 2019 and 2020.
34 states and Washington DC have legalized marijuana in one form or another, including recreational use, medical use, and sale
In the same age bracket, cases jumped by 573, from 370 to 943.
For the under-five age group, cases rose from 957 in 2019 to 2,119 in 2020, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
In total, more than 3,000 children required treatment for cannabis exposure in 2020.
“We certainly have no shortage of kids getting into their parents’ marijuana products. These are usually children between the ages of 2 and 6. It’s almost always edibles in the shape of brownies or cookies or other things kids might reasonably think are good to eat,’ said Dr. Eric Lavonas, a toxicologist at Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety at Denver, to US News.
Dr. Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told DailyMail.com that every time a drug becomes more available, there are more cases of poisoning.
“Children will arrive very altered and unable to communicate with their surroundings, often vomiting,” he said. “The biggest danger is making sure it’s not something else and that the child doesn’t get dehydrated.”
Even in states that have yet to legalize cannabis, American attitudes toward the drug and its availability thanks to states that have legalized or decriminalized it mean that access is wider than ever.
According to a new survey, more than 90% of Americans now think marijuana should be legal in some form, and nearly two-thirds say they support legalizing both medicinal and recreational use.
According to the study by the Pew Research Center, less than one in ten – or 8% – said that smoking marijuana should not be legal.
The poll was taken after Virginia and New York took steps to legalize marijuana last year.
Calello recommends locking up marijuana products and avoiding those packaged with cartoon characters and bright colors that might attract children.
More than 90% of Americans now think marijuana should be legal in some form, with nearly two-thirds saying they support legalizing both medical and recreational use, a poll has found.
Pew survey finds majorities in all age groups – except 75+ – think marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use