ISSUE OF EDIBLES AND CHILDREN
Any parent who gets a call from a health official or a teacher on behalf of their child, informing them that he or she has passed out or is acting extremely disoriented and dizzy, would be thrown into a dread so intense, they could likely pass out themselves. Then one finds out they have ingested marijuana edibles that are shaped or packaged to look like candy, brownies or cookies and dread quickly turns to panic. Dangerous? One hundred percent. Deadly? No. In terms of the possibility of overdose with THC (the psychoactive component found in marijuana), there have been no recorded deaths. An accidental poisoning or acute marijuana intoxication is however, a rising issue among children, and the condition in which a child is in can cause them to exhibit behaviors in which they could harm themselves or others.
Earlier this month in New Mexico, a 5th grader mistook her Grandfather’s marijuana gummy edibles for regular candy and took them to school with her and handing them out to several her friends. She had a box of gummies with her with a label that read: ‘Incredibles’. Most of the teachers just assumed it was ordinary gummies. The 9 year old who took 4 gummies, began complaining that she could not see, and then teachers noticed she was acting strange, 911 was called and arrived at the school to assess the occurrence.
A child is at risk precisely because of their small size and weight coupled with the fact that edibles tend to last much longer in the system than smoking marijuana. The signs to look out for in children are dizziness, balance issues, drowsiness and abnormal behavior. Because of the lack of research in this department, no one can say for certain what, if any, are the lasting effects of marijuana in children.
Medical Marijuana is permitted now in 29 states and recreational marijuana is legal in an additional eight. This will increase the odds that children will accidentally dose themselves or others with what they imagine is regular candy or baked goods. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. One needs to put it into context. The increase is directly related to marijuana legalization yet it is not any more dangerous than the other toxic drugs and medicines children regularly ingest accidentally.
As with any other drug or medicine, there are precautions one must take to ensure an unintentional dosing never happens to a child. The onus is on the parent to make sure their child cannot gain access to their medical prescriptions, period.
- Keep marijuana out of sight, high up and away from curious children (as you would medicine and toxic cleaning agents)
- Invest in a lock box. Safe, convenient and affordable way to cut off access entirely to harmful substances.
- Always ask other parents if they keep marijuana products in the home if your child will be there. If yes, make sure to ask them to keep them stored up and away from reach and sight.
- Keep the poison control phone number on your speed dial at all times.
It is perhaps time to consider the necessity for child proof packaging and/or for not creating edibles that look like candy, otherwise this will continue to be an enticing draw for children. If you have to make a marijuana brownie, lollipop or cookie, make sure the packaging is not appealing to children as well. It seems a step toward a solution in the increasing world of edibles and accidental use by children.