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Marijuana poisonings among children are rising in areas where drug is legal

Marijuana Legalization
Posted at 2:23 PM, Jan 12, 2022

Legislation is moving forward across the country to increase access and decrease business barriers within the marijuana industry.

But some experts say with that legislation comes some concerning safety trends.

Marijuana became legal in Canada in October 2018. The country waited to legalize edible products until 2020 in the hopes of passing more legislation to try and prevent child poisonings.

However, newly published data shows Ontario is still seeing nine times more ER visits for cannabis poisonings in young children. A third of those cases required further hospitalization, and in 4% of those cases, children were admitted to the ICU.

"The industry has evolved to have much stronger, more potent products and these edible products are no exception," said Dr. Sam Wang, a pediatric ER physician at Children's Hospital Colorado. "Kids can get into a lot of THC in these products, and so they can have more profound symptoms, including sedation, coma. We've seen kids with low oxygen because their breathing is low."

Wang says that nearly a decade after legalizing marijuana, Colorado continues to see an increase in calls to poison control and ER visits for accidental cannabis poisonings among children. That increase comes even after the state instituted preventative measures like child-resistant packaging, dose limitations, and restrictions on marketing and gummy products.

Wang says accidental marijuana poisonings among children still aren't as common as calls about household products like laundry detergent and over-the-counter medications. Still, he says there are other concerning trends.

"Those who do use cannabis are using more frequently and are using more products that have higher concentrations of THC — meaning vaping in concentrate use," Wang said. "That in that is in of itself concerning, as there's increasing literature on higher doses of THC use initiating and more frequently at a younger age can lead to long-term health and mental health impacts."

According to a Gallup poll, 68% of Americans now support legalizing marijuana.