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Adults are reminded to be vigilant when it comes to children and edibles with THC

Marijuana is now legal in Missouri – both for medicinal and recreational use. That means more people may have edibles in their homes, vehicles or purses, and that can pose a danger to kids.

Calls to poison control centers about children ages 5 and younger consuming edibles containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, increased almost 1,400 percent during the past five years, and 98 percent of those children found the edibles at home. 

“Many of these products look just like candy, baked goods or familiar drinks,” said Becky Spain, Mercy injury prevention specialist and Safe Kids coordinator. “Kids – especially those who can’t read – may have no idea they contain marijuana. It can take an hour or more for them to feel any effects and by then, they may have consumed multiple doses.”

Those effects can last six to eight hours, and because of a child’s size and weight, they are at a higher risk of overdose. 

“We are seeing so many children come in that show signs of overdose,” Dr. Diane Lipscomb, Mercy pediatric intensive care physician, said. “The signs range from just feeling woozy to patients who are altered to the point they actually need help in an intensive care setting and are put on ventilators.”

Older children may get into their edibles on purpose, but they too can experience unexpected side effects.

“It often takes more than an hour to feel the effects of an edible,” Spain explained. “We see teens consume one and when nothing happens, they take another. That can get dangerous quickly.”

Lipscomb agrees. 

“The levels can end up being toxic. And don’t forget, these children are still growing, and their brains are developing,” she said. “Marijuana edibles can impact their growth and development.”

There are ways you can protect the young people in your life.

“Keep cannabis products in their original packaging and store them on a high shelf in a medication lockbox,” Spain said. “Also, don’t consume cannabis products in front of children, because they like to mimic adults.”

Also, you don’t know what other adults may have in their homes, purses or vehicles, so tell your kids never to eat anything that looks like candy or treats without first getting an adult’s permission.

Sonya Kullmann is the media relations and communications manager for Mercy Health. 

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