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Upstate New York Poison Center releases statement after increase in calls for children eating marijuana edibles

  • / Updated:
  • Concetta Durso 

Below is a press release from the Upstate New York Poison Center regarding children eating marijuana edibles:

“The Upstate New York Poison Center has seen a sharp increase in the number of calls to our poison center for children and teens who have eaten marijuana edibles. Our data shows our calls increased nearly sixfold from almost four years ago for children and teens 19-years-old and younger who have consumed a cannabis-containing food product. The drastic change from 2019 to 2022 is even higher when you look at just children five and under. The Upstate New York Poison Center handled only seven cases in 2019 and as of early August this year, we have received 64 calls. We are on par to handle the highest number of cases for marijuana edibles in our 65-year history.

“There are multiple factors at play as for why we are seeing an increase in calls. Some of the biggest reasons why we think there is this increase is because these products are more readily available and many products have enticing packaging,” says Dr. Vince Calleo, medical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center. “No matter the reason, our number one concern right now is for the pediatric population because marijuana can have serious effects on their small bodies.”

Because edible THC products often look like candy or sweets, children tend to eat more than what is considered a single “dose” for an adult. These edible products look appealing to young children, and many times, children don’t stop at just one. It is important to remember that unlike smoked marijuana, the effects of edibles may not kick in for almost 90 minutes. Pediatric exposures to edible THC products frequently require a trip to a healthcare facility. In young children, marijuana can cause changes in blood pressure and heart rate, severe tiredness, trouble breathing and even coma.

Calleo says, “It’s easy to forget and leave something out on a table or a counter, but please remember to treat marijuana products just like a dangerous medication. Kids are curious and can’t normally tell the difference between products with and without THC. Up high and out of reach of children is the best place to store all cannabis-related products. Placing THC edibles in medication lock boxes can decrease the chances of children accidentally eating them.”

Our poison center is staffed by trained Registered Nurses, Pharmacists and Physicians who have completed training on how to handle a poisoning call for marijuana edibles and when to send someone to a healthcare facility.

If you are over 21 and choose to have marijuana edibles (i.e., gummies, cannabis oil for baking, weed candies) remember:

  1. Keep all marijuana containing products up high and out of reach of children
  2. Consider buying a medication lock box. To obtain a free one, check out our website
  3. Save our number, 1-800-222-1222, just in case
  4. If you suspect a child has swallowed any form of marijuana, call us. Symptoms/reactions are often delayed

Hear directly from Dr. Calleo and a local pediatrician on best practices when it comes to storing marijuana edibles in our newest video.”