Last updated: November 27, 2023
Some parents have found that marijuana legalization put an entirely different spin on the phrase getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Fessing up was the only solution.
Their child got into the edible stash and they immediately sought medical help.
Realizing there had been no such study, JAMA Pediatrics gathered data to learn how legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in Colorado had affected the pediatric population compared with the rest of the nation. Using information from hospital and RPC records spanning from January, 2009 through December, 2015, with the legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado (2012) being around the midpoint of that time frame.
The study, consisting of statistics from one children’s hospital and the regional poison center (RPC) in Colorado, showed a 34% increase of cases in which children had been exposed to marijuana over the study period. In comparison, there was only a 19% increase nationwide over the same time frame.
In the Colorado study, over half of those cases were due to recreational marijuana use rather than medical.
The median age of the children receiving treatment for marijuana exposure was 2 years old, but the study ranged from 0 to 9 years of age. The majority of the incidents happened at home while in their parents care. Ingesting the drug was the main route to exposure.
Marijuana edibles were noted as the source.
Candies, cookies, cake, brownies, and popcorn were the specifically listed delicacies. Seriously, now. What are the odds that a young child could just walk by any of those items left unattended without pinching at least a little something as they pass by?
Actually, it would probably be a pretty good bet that they would just help themselves.
Young children grabbing for the goodies without a thought as to what might be in them is not hard to fathom. The mental image of gorging even comes to mind fairly easily, doesn’t it? But, even if they don’t over indulge, marijuana that is ingested in a food source can have a prolonged effect. This is more likely to be a serious issue in young children merely due to their size and weight..
Too much of a good thing
What a horrible way to be reminded of our constant need to act responsibly!
It would be a terrifying moment to realize your child has eaten something that could potentially be harmful to them. And, what if, per se, the dog had joined the picnic and there was no way to estimate with any degree of certainty who had eaten what…
Panic could easily ensue!
The JAMA Pediatrics study noted that Colorado has a law in place regulating that the sale of all edibles be in child resistant packaging. However, in data collected for the study, it was shown that once home, parents (or others) had failed to keep their purchases in child proof containers or otherwise stored appropriately after opening the package.
Those parents are to be commended for scooping up their child and heading for help. The fact that they immediately owned up to acting irresponsibly by either failing to supervise their child or by failure to store marijuana edibles properly should be acknowledged.
Mistakes happen, sometimes with serious results.
Accepting responsibility for the circumstances at hand speaks volumes as to actual character traits. This was also noted to a degree in the study, along with the fact that Family Service agencies were contacted regarding these children and follow-up visits were scheduled.
The proof is in the pudding
Because there are varying degrees of potency in the array of edibles that are on the market, it is hard to predict how these products could affect any given child. Of course, that is true of any drug and the ingested amounts when comparing to the metabolism, weight, and size of each individual child.
Thankfully, the vast majority of the children in this study only experienced lethargy and/or drowsiness as their major symptom. Other minor symptoms ranging from vomiting to dizziness were noted. Most children required only a few hour stay (up to 11) at the hospital before being allowed to go home, but a few did remain in care for just over a 24 hour period.
Sadly, there were some serious incidents reported as well. A small number of children experienced severe respiratory depression and required assistance breathing for a period of time. An even smaller number of children experienced seizures that were attributed to marijuana exposure.
One fatality, an 11 month old baby, was reported. The child was unresponsive upon arrival at the hospital. It was not determined if the death was a result of marijuana ingestion, but it was detected in the child’s system postmortem. Heart failure was the official autopsy finding.
These serious findings were by far the smallest percentages, but the fact that any child was harmed at all is very sobering. In this imperfect world bad things happen, the hardest among them to digest being harm coming to a child.
This study has shone a bright light on another issue we must consider in regard to marijuana legalization. Especially, when considering that children are present in the lives of those using the drug either recreationally or medically. Fulfilling our responsibility to our children must always be first and foremost.
As is always the case, the first step to striking an even keel in a new situation is education. Making people aware of the need to keep marijuana, in whatever form, safely stored out of the reach of children will surely become part of the industry’s culture.
Awareness constitutes a change for the better. Every time.