More kids accidentally eating marijuana edibles, Blue Ridge Poison Center reports

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 12:42 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Young children are accidentally consuming cannabis edibles at higher rates than ever before, according to a new study. The Blue Ridge Poison Center reports its calls tripled in 2022, in comparison to 2021.

The center says it received 77 calls last year for kids unintentionally getting their hands on marijuana products. In 2021, that number was 26, and only 11 in 2020. Its director says these numbers don’t reflect all the cases-- just the calls they receive, which reflect trends.

“Five years ago, or more, we didn’t see any calls at all. Now, we have the steady increase,” BRPC Medical Director Doctor Chris Holstege said Tuesday, January 17.

Dr. Holstege believes the uptick is because of availability. He says stores selling the items are popping up around Charlottesville and he and his staff went around to see how accessible cannabis edibles are.

“There are more and more shops that are increasing too, and these products. Many of these products look like candy,” he said. “One of the problems that we have is there’s no quality control on these products, so we don’t know what they’re getting exactly. Even if they say how many milligrams, that may not be true.”

Dr. Holstege says that leads to children being hospitalized, and it is more common for the little ones: 68% of the calls involve kids 5 or under. He says it’s more difficult for their small body masses to process the drugs, and almost all of them end up going to the emergency department, or are admitted to critical care units.

“We need to make sure that their heart rate stays appropriate, we need to make sure that their airway stays appropriate, that they’re breathing, and in the worst-case scenarios, that have to be put on life support,” the doctor said.

To avoid all of this, Dr. Holstege recommends if you have young kids, avoid buying any cannabis that looks like candy and lock up your edibles like you would store away any other medications. He believes we will continue to see this uptick unless something changes.

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