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EDITORIAL: Keeping marijuana products out of reach of children

Posted 8/26/22

The Upstate New York Poison Center, located at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, has issued an important advisory that notes it has seen a sharp increase in the number of calls for children …

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EDITORIAL: Keeping marijuana products out of reach of children

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The Upstate New York Poison Center, located at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, has issued an important advisory that notes it has seen a sharp increase in the number of calls for children and teens who have eaten marijuana edibles.

The data shows that calls increased nearly sixfold from almost four years ago for children and teens 19-years-old and younger who have consumed a cannabis-containing food product.

The drastic change from 2019 to 2022 is even higher when you look at just children five and under. The Upstate New York Poison Center handled only seven cases in 2019 for that younger age group, and as of early August this year, it has received 64 calls.

“There are multiple factors at play as for why we are seeing an increase in calls. Some of the biggest reasons why we think there is this increase is because these products are more readily available and many products have enticing packaging,” says Dr. Vince Calleo, medical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center. “No matter the reason, our number one concern right now is for the pediatric population because marijuana can have serious effects on their small bodies.”

Because edible THC products often look like candy or sweets, children tend to eat more than what is considered a single “dose” for an adult. These edible products look appealing to young children, and many times, children don’t stop at just one. It is important to remember that unlike smoked marijuana, the effects of edibles may not kick in for almost 90 minutes. Pediatric exposures to edible THC products frequently require a trip to a healthcare facility. In young children, marijuana can cause changes in blood pressure and heart rate, severe tiredness, trouble breathing and even coma.

Calleo says, “It’s easy to forget and leave something out on a table or a counter, but please remember to treat marijuana products just like a dangerous medication. Kids are curious and can’t normally tell the difference between products with and without THC.

The poison center is staffed by trained registered nurses, pharmacists and physicians who have completed training on how to handle a poisoning call for marijuana edibles and when to send someone to a healthcare facility.

While disagreement remains over whether pot should have been legalized in the first place, it is here to stay, and marijuana products are now in more and more homes. Anyone who suspects that a child has swallowed any form of marijuana should call the center at (800) 222-1222, and information on how to obtain a free medication lock box can be found at the center’s website (upstate.edu).


 

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