With each passing year, Americans are increasingly more accepting of medical marijuana. That is good for patients and the companies involved in the medical marijuana space. It is also good for politicians who want to use the issue to score points. But not all is sunshine and roses. With acceptance of medical cannabis on the rise, so are poisoning incidents among children.
Data recently cited by the Washington Post reveals that there were just nineteen cases of accidental poisoning in 2010. In 2020, some four hundred children under the age of five were poisoned by their parents’ cannabis edibles. A total of 554 poisoning cases were reported by poison control centers in 2020.
The Washington Post also says that increased poisonings are not limited only to those states restricting marijuana to medical use. Children are being poisoned in the eighteen states where recreational use is allowed. The Post cited data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers claiming that the number of pediatric ER visits related to THC ingestion increase when states open the doors to recreational use.
States Restricting Edibles
It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the statistics state-by-state. Why? Because some states restrict the forms medical cannabis can take. Utah is a good example. There, medical cannabis edibles cannot be sold. Producers can make gummies, capsules, tablets, and tinctures. They cannot make and sell THC laced candies, baked goods, etc. Perhaps this makes a difference.
According to the Post, a twelve-year-old girl in New Jersey was taken to the hospital earlier in 2021 after ingesting what she thought were Skittles. She did not know she was eating THC candy. In late 2020, a three-year-old was treated after ingesting what appeared to be Nerds Rope candy.
Such stories are far too common. From Massachusetts to Colorado and California, children whose access to their parent’s THC products is not controlled are at a higher risk of accidental poisoning. Moreover, every state that has legalized recreational use has seen an up-tick in poisonings.
By the same token, states that continue to restrict cannabis to medical use have fewer pediatric issues, according to the Post. Perhaps that’s the difference between viewing cannabis as a legitimate medicine as opposed to a recreational product.
Out of the Hands of Children
Pediatric cannabis poisoning is a bigger issue than you might think. Even now, it is pretty likely that Washington will decriminalize marijuana in 2021 or 2022. Once it happens, the ball will be in the states’ court. State legislators will have to determine how to regulate cannabis. They are going to have to find a way to keep it out of the hands of children.
Using Utah as an example again, patients must go to a licensed cannabis dispensary to get product. Beehive Farmacy with locations in Salt Lake City and Brigham City represent just two of the fourteen dispensaries currently licensed in the state. Yet patients in Utah cannot buy THC-laced candies. If Washington decriminalizes marijuana, will that change? Will companies begin importing THC products from other states, or will Utah legislators reinforce the ban on edibles?
A Big Potential Problem
States already have enough problems dealing with alcohol use among minors. Now they face the prospect of having to deal with cannabis as well. Edibles only make a difficult situation even more so. The last thing state lawmakers want to do is give the go-ahead to products that are so clearly dangerous to kids.
Poisoning incidents are on the rise as America becomes more accepting of marijuana. What is already a big problem could potentially become bigger very soon.