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Marijuana Edibles Are Sending Kids to the ER: Here's Tips to Keep Them Safe

MONDAY, Sept. 4, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Drugs and children don’t mix, so it’s important to keep little ones safe by storing any marijuana edibles out of reach from small hands.

The New Jersey Poison Control Center is offering warnings that can apply anywhere, after aiding in the medical treatment of 30 children ranging from the ages of 1 to 12 who accidentally ate marijuana edibles in July.

"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 Dr. 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," she said in a Rutgers news release. "Don’t take the risk. Lock up your edibles."

Children who ingest edibles are at a much higher risk for severe health effects and even death from consuming marijuana.

Symptoms can include trouble breathing, loss of coordination, drowsiness and seizures. In some cases, children may need to be admitted to an intensive care unit. Almost all young children need to be evaluated in an emergency room.

Caregivers may not realize a child has accidentally eaten edibles because the reaction can be delayed.

“Since some edibles may be highly concentrated, beware of what you buy if you live with young and school-aged children," said Dr. 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," Nelson said in the release. "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."

Pets can also be harmed by accidentally ingesting marijuana products.

To prevent accidental exposure or overdose, the experts advise storing edible products in a secure/locked place, out of sight and reach of children and pets.

Meanwhile, limit the amount/number of edible products you have in the house at one time, they suggest. Know the concentration of THC in the edibles you have and only purchase from licensed sources.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on marijuana poisoning.

SOURCE: Rutgers University-New Brunswick, news release, Aug. 29, 2023

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