The recent changes to Colorado’s marijuana laws have made it easier for those who need pot for their ailments to get their medicine. Unfortunately, with an abundance of marijuana and easier access to it come some unintended consequences.
According to new research, there’s been a marked uptick in accidental ingestion of marijuana by children. What kids may believe to be a harmless brownie or cookie may be laced with powerful marijuana which can affect children much differently than it does adults. Dr. George Sam Wang is a medical toxicology fellow at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver who calls this accidental ingestion “poisoning” and claims more than one dozen children have been admitted to the hospital since the passage of 2009’s state-wide legalization act.
Dr. Wang also points out, however, that no children have died from accidental ingestion nor were any of the individuals left with lasting side effects. Still, he urges state agencies and others to work to prevent more of these hospitalizations.
“We are seeing increases in exposure to marijuana in young pediatric patients, and they have more severe symptoms than we typically associate with marijuana,” said Dr. Wang in a statement.
“We hadn’t seen these exposures before the big boom of the medical marijuana industry,” he added.
Wang’s research was recently published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
According to Dr. Wang, it’s sometimes difficult for doctors in emergency rooms to treat children who accidentally eat pot-laced baked goods.
Despite this recent uptick in accidental ingestion cases, doctors aren’t yet accustomed to treating children who are under the influence of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active chemical in marijuana. Furthermore, it can sometimes be difficult to get the child’s parents to admit that the child discovered their stash.
Once the doctor discovers that the child has injested marijuana, either through parental admission or through their own diagnoses, there’s little that can be done to treat the child. Brownies, Cookies, lollipops and other cannabis-infused baked goods have a notoriously stronger effect than the traditional method of smoking marijuana. This, when combined with the child’s lower tolerance for marijuana leads to more severe symptoms in the hospital.