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Health & Medicine

Increase in Kids Ingesting Marijuana Products a Growing Concern of Upstate Poison Center


The Upstate Poison Control Center is noticing a disturbing new trend in the amount of calls for youth exposed to marijuana edibles.  Sometimes it can be fancy colored packaging that might lure unsuspecting younger kids who can’t read and think its regular candy. 

Medical Director Michael Hodgman says oral exposures accounted for fewer than 10 calls per year… but that’s more than doubled in the last three years. 

“With young families, it’s very important to store everything safely, cleaning products, medications.  And edible marijuana products have to be treated exactly the same because young kids get into everything.”

Hodgman suspects edible marijuana products are coming in more frequently from neighboring states and Ontario, Canada, where they’ve been legalized.  Recent legalization in New York is also expected to lead to more exposure for youth.  However, there are all kinds of scenarios as adults do other things with the drug.

“People also bake their own edible products, and some of these exposures in young kids are related to other THC products, such as ones available through the New York State Medical Marijuana Program.  And sometimes, I can’t explain it, but a child will just eat the plant material.”

Calls to Poison Center since 2016 have spiked for youth ingesting products with marijuana or the raw plant itself. 

Hodgman adds, what’s troubling with marijuana edibles disguised as candy or baked goods is that children and teens don’t know how much they’re ingesting.  Children’s reactions to ingesting too much of the drug can range from severe tiredness, difficulty breathing, and low blood pressure, to even placing them into a coma. 

The Upstate Poison Center received more than 30 calls for children 6-and-under ingesting marijuana products last year – more than 6 times the number from 2016.