Cases of Colorado toddlers accidentally ingesting THC soar
The number of young children accidentally eating their caretakers' cannabis has risen dramatically in Colorado and nationwide, new research shows.
Why it matters: State lawmakers have taken steps to make marijuana products less visually appealing to children — but the measures haven't kept kids from mistaking edibles as sweet treats.
Driving the news: From 2017 to 2021, the highest share of reported marijuana exposures in Colorado — nearly half — were among kids 5 and under, Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Safety data shows.
- Pediatric cannabis exposures for that age group jumped 170%, to 151 in 2021 from 56 in 2017.
The big picture: Incidents of children younger than 6 unintentionally eating cannabis edibles nationwide skyrocketed 1,375% in five years, with many cases requiring hospitalization, a study published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics found.
- Nationwide, reports of children accidentally eating edibles soared to 3,054 cases in 2021 compared to 207 in 2017, per the study of national poison control data.
- Though the case count remains relatively small, the numbers are growing at a rapid clip as more states legalize recreational marijuana.
What's happening: Edible pot products come in colorful packages often resembling common candy, like chocolates and sour gummies — which can entice kids who come across them without understanding their dangers.
What they're saying: "There are some patients that actually have airway obstruction and need to be in the ICU or put on a ventilator," Andrew Monte, an emergency medicine doctor at University of Colorado hospital, told NPR.
- Monte said his department sees cases of children consuming cannabis multiple times a month.
Context: Colorado law requires child-resistance packaging for all edibles, and bans products shaped like animals, fruit or people, as well as the words "candy" or "candies" on cannabis products.
- State statute also bars pot packages from using cartoon characters or other images that could appeal to kids and requires recreational marijuana edibles be stamped with a diamond logo that reads "! THC."
What to watch: As access to cannabis candies become increasingly available across the country, officials say cases of kids consuming edibles could rise.
- Researchers in the Pediatrics study are calling for stricter regulations on the potency of pot packaging and for edibles to be placed in opaque, child-resistant packaging.
Be smart: Health experts say caregivers who suspect their child has eaten a marijuana edible should be taken to a doctor as soon as possible.
- Parents should also treat their pot like they would prescription medicine — and keep it out of reach and in child-proof containers.
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