With the legalization of marijuana, more children are finding their parents’ edibles.
In 2017, there were a little over 200 cases of accidental ingestion among children. The kids in the study were under 6 years old, meaning their minds and bodies could have a strong adverse reaction to the substance. In 2021, that number increased exponentially to 3054. This is a 1375% increase! During the four-year timespan, kids under 5 years old accidentally consuming edibles contributed to 40% of the calls made to poison control centers nationally.
Because recreational marijuana is now legal in many areas of the U.S., adults are purchasing the drug more and more and evidently leaving edibles in places where their children can easily find them. Moreover, many of these edibles resemble enticing foods, including cookies, brownies, and gummy bears. Of course, these are desirable products for children, making it likely that they’ll unknowingly come into contact with cannabis.
“Many edible THC containing products resemble treats that might easily be mistaken by a child as just another snack,” said study co-author Dr. Marit Tweet, an emergency medicine physician and medical toxicologist with the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
The research team suggests that there has been a lack of education for parents and other adults on how to properly store recreational drugs in order to ensure they’re kept away from children. And because adults are used to regulating how much cannabis they ingest, they don’t consider the fact that their children are unable to do the same.
When young people see bright colored packaging depicting images of the sweets they crave, they often don’t take the time to ask parents whether they can eat these. Many of the edible labels include fun-looking marketing such as smiling cookies, rainbows, and other naturally attractive pictures that make children more likely to immediately consume what’s inside. Young children are often unable to read ingredients or warnings on these packages that accompany the images.
There is also the problem of parents and other adults in the house not putting edibles in child-proof containers in spaces where they can’t be reached. Edibles in the house should be placed in locked containers or up in hard-to-reach cabinets. They should not be at a level that a small child can access.
Given the shocking increase in the number of children consuming edibles over the course of the study, it is vital that precautions are taken to ensure that this number doesn’t continue to increase. Community education resources might help make parents more aware of the issue.