NEW JERSEY– In July, the New Jersey Poison Control Center assisted in the medical treatment of 30 children ranging from 1 to 12 years old who accidentally ate marijuana edibles.
“It is difficult for anyone, especially children, to tell an edible marijuana product from food when the product is almost identical to common everyday foods and drinks,“ said Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “For this reason, it’s important to store marijuana products, especially edibles, the same way you would store medicines in your home. Don’t take the risk. Lock up your edibles.”
Kids and adult recreational products don’t mix. Unlike adults, children who ingest edibles are at a much higher risk for severe health effects and even fatal outcomes from marijuana. These effects can include trouble breathing, loss of coordination, drowsiness, and seizures.
In some cases, children may need to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU); but almost all young children need to be evaluated in an emergency room. Since the effects of edibles are delayed, caregivers may not realize a child accidentally ate some.
“Since some edibles may be highly concentrated, beware of what you buy if you live with young and school-aged children,” says Lewis Nelson, chair of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “Many edible products look and taste like store-bought treats and other food products, making it difficult for children to know the difference. Although edibles like brownies, gummies, and lollipops can be fun and/or therapeutic for adults, high levels of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), can lead to dangerous overdose symptoms in children.”
Safe use and storage are key when using edibles. These products can affect people differently.
Follow these tips to prevent accidental exposure or overdose:
- Store edible products in a secure/locked place, out of sight and reach of children and pets. Pets can also experience severe and potentially fatal health effects.
- Limit the amount/number of edible products you have in the house at one time.
- Know the concentration of THC in the edibles you have.
- Start slow (less than a full serving) if you are a new user.
- Wait until you feel the effects first before deciding to use more.
- Only purchase marijuana products from licensed sources.
If you think someone consumed too much marijuana or a child consumed any, contact the New Jersey Poison Control Center immediately for medical treatment advice.
Poison control centers are a medical resource for both the public and healthcare professionals. Get help 24/7. Call 1-800-222-1222 or Chat Here. If someone is not breathing, hard to wake up, or having a seizure, call 9-1-1.