The number of small children in the US who accidentally ate marijuana-laced treats increased drastically between 2017 and 2021, a new study has revealed.
Within this period, there were more than 7,040 exposures to edible cannabis in children under age six, including some toddlers, according to an analysis of records from the National Poison Data System.
The past few years have seen more US states authorize the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Medics say the fact that cannabis can be infused into chocolate bars, gummy candies, cookies, chips and juices should prompt parents be more vigilant in keeping kids from eating it.
The survey found that in 2017, there were 207 reported cases of accidental edible cannabis exposure among young children, while by 2021, there were 3,054 such cases.
Almost a quarter of these children wound up hospitalized, some seriously ill, the study said, adding that symptoms include heart problems, confusion, vomiting and trouble breathing.
Marit Tweet, a medical toxicologist with the Southern Illinois School of Medicine who led the study, called for greater vigilance by parents and for more laws to be passed so as to make pot products less appealing and accessible to children.
“When it’s in a candy form or cookies, people don’t think of it in the same way as household chemicals or other things a child could get into. But people should really be thinking of it as a medication,” she was cited by a US media outlet as saying.
Tweet was echoed by study co-author Antonia Nemanich, who said, “My stance is that it is not a problem that these products are legalized, but the problem is that they’re not packaged the way drugs or medications are packaged. We have a lot of safeguards in place for that.”
The cases of children accidentally eating pot-laced products, including candies, chocolate, chips and cookies, coincided with more US states authorizing medical and recreational marijuana use.
Right now, using cannabis for medical purposes is legal in 37 states, while 21 states have legalized the recreational use of the drug.
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