SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Adult-use cannabis became legal in Massachusetts back in 2016. The first pot shops opened up in 2018. Since then, there have been an increasing number of calls to poison control related to edibles. The 22News I-Team found out many of the reports are for children eating edibles.
“Every parent should know that this could be dangerous and should weigh the risks vs. benefits of having these substances in their house,” said Dr. Ian Goodman, the Interim Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Baystate Health.
Nationwide, calls to poison control centers about kids five and under consuming edibles containing THC rose from 207 in 2017 to 3,054 in 2021, that’s a 1,375% increase, according to a study published this year in the journal Pediatrics.
Here in Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health reports that the Poison Control Center has also seen an increase in calls related to pediatric ingestions of marijuana edibles. The numbers have been declining slightly since 2020, but children still make up 67-78 percent of calls about edibles.
Dr. Goodman told the 22News I-Team that they’ve treated kids at Baystate Children’s Hospital who have gotten into edibles.
“We’ve had admissions to our ICU for what turned out to be marijuana ingestion in young kids,” Dr. Goodman said. “We’ve actually had at least two patients that I know of with respiratory difficulty because of this ingestion.”
Symptoms can include confusion, sleepiness, and fast heart rate or breathing. In severe cases, children have had seizures or even went into a coma.
“It has to do with their size and the fact that they don’t metabolize these chemicals the same way adults would and the fact that the doses are so much higher in some of the edibles we are seeing now,” explained Dr. Goodman.
The vast majority of the time, he said kids are finding these edibles at home.
Parents can protect their children by keeping the products out of sight, either behind locked doors or high up on shelves. The Cannabis Control Commission also has rules in place to try and protect kids. They can’t be sold in the “shape of a human, animal, or fruit.” They also can’t resemble characters or cartoons.
Most dispensaries take that one step further by using child proof containers.
Dr. Goodman said if you do have edibles at home, make sure you have poison control and your pediatrician’s number ready just in case something happens.
Poison Control can be contacted 24/7 at (800) 222-1222.