Family Matters

More Kids Accidentally Ingesting Marijuana Following New Drug Policies

Thanks to more relaxed laws for medical marijuana users — and with the first states legalizing recreational pot — Junior may be more likely to ingest marijuana in dangerously high doses.

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At least 18 states allow medical marijuana, and the likelihood that more kids will encounter it at home only increases with Colorado and Washington’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana.

Beginning nearly four years ago, the federal government decided not to investigate those involved in using and distributing medical marijuana who complied with state laws; the more lenient stand spurred a boom in dispensaries and requests for personal use in states where it was allowed.

But around that time, doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado noticed kids were coming into the emergency room after accidentally ingesting marijuana. Were the cases directly due to the fact that young children were finding more marijuana at home, or were the doctors simply more aware of the exposures because of the more relaxed policies?

To find out, they analyzed emergency room visits for kids under 12 seen for poisonings and ingestions of any kind between 2005 to 2011, using the fall of 2009 — when new enforcement guidelines were issued — as a dividing line.

From Jan. 2005 through Sept. 2009, there were no marijuana-related visits among 790 patients, according to the research, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics. Between Oct. 2009 to Dec. 2011, however, 14 of 588 children were seen for marijuana exposure — eight involving medical marijuana and seven from food containing the drug.

The researchers say that homemade brownies speckled with pot may not pose a significant threat to kids, but commercial products formulated for medical use — as well as loose-leaf marijuana grown for medicinal purposes — could be more concerning, since they contain concentrated amounts of THC, the chemical that induces a high.

“They’re sold as edible products and soft drinks that kids will eat or drink because they don’t know it’s any different,” says Dr. George Wang, the study’s lead author and a medical toxicology fellow at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. “If they’re going to eat a whole cookie with 300 mg of THC, they will get much more symptomatic and sick and have to be admitted to the hospital.”

Tracing the poisonings to marijuana, however, wasn’t always easy. In some cases, parents didn’t want to admit or didn’t know that their child had gotten into their marijuana stash; in several cases, the marijuana belonged to grandparents. Young children who are exposed to high levels of THC can hallucinate, be difficult to arouse and have trouble breathing — symptoms that can be hard to narrow down. At least one child had an unnecessary lumbar puncture and another underwent a CT scan while doctors tried to pinpoint the cause of the problems..

(MORE: Don’t Eat Daddy’s Cookies: How to Talk to Your Kids About Pot)

“We’re in this new age of allowing marijuana and we are seeing things we haven’t seen before,” says Wang, who is also a clinical instructor in the department of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “We need to educate families to keep it out of the reach of kids. Treat it like a drug because it is a drug.”

Parents aren’t the only ones who need to be more vigilant about the potential new risks of marijuana exposure, however. Researchers who wrote an editorial accompanying the study called for more training of pediatricians and emergency medicine physicians, who aren’t necessarily able to recognize toxic reactions to marijuana, particularly among young children, because they aren’t expecting high dose THC exposure in patients so young.

In Colorado, where voters recently legalized recreational marijuana use, Wang and a Poison Control colleague persuaded the legislature to include wording to require child-resistant packaging for edible marijuana products in a bill about marijuana regulation. If the bill passes, Wang believes Colorado would be the first state to require such measures, though a doctor from Boston Children’s Hospital recently testified to the Massachusetts legislature about the need for similar requirements. “It’s hard to argue with,” says Wang. “It’s common sense.”

More packaging could drive up costs, but Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Colorade-based medical marijuana purveyor, is on board with the proposal.

“As a parent and a businessperson, I wholeheartedly support the legislation,” says Christie Lunsford, who as Dixie’s marketing director is overseeing its plans for upgraded packaging. “We take this issue so seriously.”

In July, the state is expected to release its preliminary requirements for new packaging. But Dixie has already informed its packaging provider that it intends to place orders for child-proof containers so that no unsuspecting tots are tempted by its medicated chocolate truffles, which Dixie’s website describes as offering “sweet, creamy relief” or their crispy rice treats, in which the classic, nostalgic match of gooey marshmallow and crispy, puffed rice gets a euphoric lift.” With the range of tempting marijuana-laced foods likely to increase, such pre-emptive strategies for protecting young children from potentially dangerous exposures — just as they’re safeguarded from prescription and over-the-counter medications — seems to make sense.

(MORE: Pot Is Legal in Washington: Q&A with the Man Who Is Making Weed Legit)

458 comments
wannanah33
wannanah33

Yet again, another article to scare people. Not once in this article is it mentioned how a child was harmed. Not once. Going to the hospital is not - in and of itself - harmful to your health. 


Around the country, there are people with mental illness that believe they have been taken over by a demon... just because they go to a hospital and just because someone decides to count the number of cases of this doesn't make it real.


Concerned parents probably ought to take their kids to the hospital if they think they've ingested harmful substances, including marijuana. But that doesn't mean it's harmful. 


Another article preying on your fears.

USA1
USA1

this woman is crazy, misinformation about a benign, amazing gift from nature (marijuana) is why marijuana was stupidly, and unfairly made illegal. ALCOHOL is much easier for children to ingest, and FAR MORE DANGEROUS. Lady, you are clueless. It's close minded people like you who really hinder our society moving forward. Children can also easily ingest harmful household things like paint, nail polish/remover, make-up, cleaners , etc.. If you are opposed to cannabis, fine, but get real facts (good luck) to support your article. I can't believe you write for a magor magazine like this, last one ill read

Buzzby
Buzzby

It's fortunate for children and the rest of us that there is no practical lethal dose of marijuana.  While many drugs have lethal doses that are quite close to their effective doses, marijuana is one of the least toxic substances known to man.  To kill you, it is estimated that it would take between 20,000 and 40,000 times the amount necessary to get  a buzz.  No one knows exactly because in 5,000 years of recored medicinal and recreational use, the death toll for marijuana remains at zero.

TomSchneider
TomSchneider

@ Jason

Jason, my brother and I saved his best friend two years ago with Cannabis oil that we prepared ourselves. His doctors had diagnosed him with the most aggressive (fastest spreading) form of prostate cancer and it was already advanced/metastisized into many organs, lymph glands and bone. In short they said he should not expect remission from conventional treatment, no chemo, no radiation should be expected to save him, but could possibly delay his death by a year or so. Without it they said he would die within two years. 

So we gave him the oil which he took (60 grams) over three months, and before that was even fully completed his doctors pronounced him in full remission, and they were flabbergasted. One said "I've never seen anything like this in all my career with this kind of advanced stage cancer, and another said "this is not supposed to happen with this sort of cancer case". He is still in remission after two years. Believe it or not, Jason, it's no skin of my nose if you don't, but I want to be humaritarian in this. I am telling the truth.

MiklosLegrady
MiklosLegrady

I wrote the Times editor protesting this misinformation, suggesting Rochman needs to go back to journalism school.


Fokai1
Fokai1

"who aren’t necessarily able to recognize toxic reactions to marijuana" 

Toxic reaction? how about "uncomfortable experience that can be slept off" 

C'mon Rochman, get it together.



jesus.lying.christ
jesus.lying.christ

and jesus walked on water. B.S. pot consumption has not increased. in other words did you go out and buy pot today just because you can?

TYLERDERK
TYLERDERK

ALL they had to do was wait it out the THC will go away and it cant hurt them   nobody dies from Marijuana??

KevinHunt
KevinHunt

WEDNESDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- Three-quarters of doctors who responded to a survey about medicalmarijuanasaid they would approve the use of the drug to help easepainin an older woman with advancedbreast cancer.

In a February issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors were presented with a case vignette, as well as arguments both for and against the use of medical marijuana. Doctors were then asked to decide whether or not they would approve such a prescription for this patient.

The results now appear in the May 30 edition of the journal.

Seventy-six percent of the 1,446 doctors who responded said they would give the woman a prescription for medical marijuana. Many cited the possibility of alleviating the woman's symptoms as a reason for approving the prescription.

KevinHunt
KevinHunt

Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows

Apr. 17, 2007 — The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm

JasonCornish
JasonCornish

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21132143

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20044454

"In a birth cohort of 1037 participants aged 21 years in Dunedin, New Zealand, a reduced ratio of FEV1 to FVC (using a threshold of < 80%) was found in a significantly higher percentage of participants who showed signs of marijuana dependency and did not smoke tobacco than in participants who smoked neither marijuana nor tobacco (36% v. 20%) (p = 0.04)."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22323502

Is that enough for you?  I can keep em coming.  Look, I am not trying to deny anyone marijuana, on the contrary, I would like to see it legalized in all 50 states and reclassified by the FDA (taken off schedule 1).  To get this done, current users are going to have to start being realistic about the health consequences of marijuana use and be responsible with it (keep out of reach of children).  What harm would child resistant packaging do???


RainyDayInterns
RainyDayInterns

Kind of a silly warning...as the same can be said of improperly washed salads which MAY contain e-coli? How about under cooked eggs? Or hamburgers grilled medium-rare? Kids actually have DIED from those. Any from "accidental ingestion" of pot...in history?

MarkCarroll
MarkCarroll

Every year more than 60,000 young children in the U.S. are treated in emergency rooms for accidental overdoses of prescription med.  Almost 20,000 people die each year from overdose....so Less than 200 a year for accidental ingestion of Marijuana with 0 deaths sounds pretty good to me.  

CharlesBudde
CharlesBudde

How is this not obvious and predictable? Marijuana in brownies is a hold over from the idiotic period back in the 70's which focused all reality and all decisions and all morality on the baby boomers. It was and remains the ultimate 'me' generation. This is the source of the Tea party and its lunatic sister the 'Occupy movement'. Any sane person will realize that inhaling burning organic material is a real bad idea. Several instances exist where attempts have been made to produce alcohol in bonbons and other 'treats'. Those were summarily taken off the market to prevent children from getting drunk. Same thing for candy cigarettes. All this aside, the central issues regarding drug use have yet to be addressed. We suck at keeping alcohol away from children and we similarly suck at coping with so-called adults and their use of alcohol. I am not suggesting a serial problem solving approach, (stop putting people in jail for getting high). There are obviously many issues that impact the whole process of getting stupid on your own time. Marijuana brownies are liquor lollypops. It is just stupid and one of the initiators for this idiocy is the half legal status of pot, exacerbated by the cowardice that is apparently part and parcel of politics.  

MuzzyLu
MuzzyLu

It is good for the kids that they ate something fairly harmless, instead of cocaine, heroin or meth!Parents should keep marijuana away from kids.Marijuana works very well for pain management. Pain management with cannabis requires the right dosage. Using marijuana edibles is the right way to maintain pain reduction. This book has great recipes for edible marijuana that are easy, small and cheap to make: MARIJUANA - Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. Only 2.99. Learn to make marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints. 

twbbud
twbbud

That's the sad fact of living in a society where we have freedom of choice.  There is no protection from one's own stupidity, or an intelligence test required for procreation.  

14 children from 0 is a statistical increase that could be read as alarming.  But, it is not an epidemic, considering the tons of cannabis consumed in Denver alone, it is to be expected.  Overall harm to society, a fraction of a percentage point compared to tobacco and alcohol.  

Timothy.Miltz
Timothy.Miltz

Hey...


Let's look at it this way.   How many of those kids brought in for ingestion of marijuana were into their parents 'meth' or 'cocaine' or 'heroin'.  ZERO I wager.


What about the kids who get into their parents heroin ? meth or cocaine ? That never gets reported.

Those parents won't EVER bring the kids to the ER.  


After all, the bottom line here is a child should never have their chances for medical decreased in any way, under any circumstances, right ?  That IS the point ?  That's all that matters is making sure children CAN get to the ER, for any reason.  This is far more important than trying to single out ER visits by molecular categorization for chemicals ingested.



Timothy.Miltz
Timothy.Miltz

Well at least this author didn't have to say "I'm a Vegan".


I am going to argue that more parents feel comfortable bringing their children to the ER who formerly faced criminal sentencing ? which would leave the child parentless due to marijuana as prior being illegal.


So, it's a good thing it's legal.  Benjamin Franklin was not known to leave his hemp pipe behind, however with highly dangerous drugs out there like meth ? I would hate to imagine the deadbeat parents who's children get into the meth 'aGain.  But the truth is those drugs need to be legalized, simply place the entire burden onto the user.  $10,000 fine.  And ? it pays for their treatment !  You get THEM to pay for their own way out. 


DEDLINES
DEDLINES

Poison? Marijuana is not poisonous.. WTF was the writer of this hit piece thanking? Doctors are being paid by big pharma to release this disinformation. Water is more poisonous than THC or THC-A. Hell.. the air you breath outside contains more cancer causing carcinogens..

TomSchneider
TomSchneider

Also despite what an earlier commentator wrote, the LD50 for THC in Cannabis is so tiny that it is not really able to be quantified. This substance, THC, is an analogue to Anandamine, a substance produced in the body, a neurotransmitter also referred to as an endocannabinoid.  There seems to be so much ignorance about these things as to be a danger. THC is a phytocannabinoid, and is now known, at least in test tube or petri dish, and mouse or rat studies to whittle down cancer to remission in many instances.  In the so-called underground of self-treatment for health, there are many anectodal cases of complete remission of desperate terminal & highly metastisized cases of cancer (Google Rick Simpson), and of course for cases less advanced. I'm afraid there was probably not a need at all for Angelina Joline to pre-emptively have her breasts removed.

TomSchneider
TomSchneider

Cannabis that is not heated does NOT have any psychoactive or any other kind of effects WHATSOEVER. Look up Dr. William Courtney on Google and his raw Cannabis eating regime. Raw ingested or "juiced" Cannabis is healthy, and also tames inflammation like few other substances can. When raw and unheated the cannabinoids, including THC are in the ACID form, occurring as THCA. Call any Lab that analyses for cannabinoids and they can explain this to you. The author of this article should be quite embarrassed over not even being aware of this but presuming to write on Cannabis which gets into technical and chemistry issues. You could eat an entire ounce bag, two or three ounce bags, and feel nothing except maybe a stomach ache from too much roughage at once.  I am very surprised that the long line of commenters, not one showed any knowledge of this very basic fact. Now, any brownie or other food preparations in which the Cannabis is heated during prep does have effects, because the heating decarboxylates the Cannabis, that is it removes the COOH group present on the THC molecule and renders it psychoactive because it enables the THC to bond with the cannabinoid (CB1) receptors in the brain. But THCA cannot bond or create any psychoactivity in a person or animal that ingests it. The effect from eating THC is a little like drunkenness because of the digestive pathway through the gut and liver, coming out in the bloodstream as delta 11 THC. The "brownie effect" resembles drunkenness a little, with enough of a dose there can be noticeable loss of coordination. Driving is fully out in that case, if enough is ingested.  However, it will pass with time and no harm though I would not purposely give it to any child for fear of creating alarm in them..

zuludawnrr
zuludawnrr

Not just Colorado or Washington.  And not just kids.  A California friend found his pet in a bad state and took it to the ER vet.  Turned out the dog had ingested marijuana.  He takes the dog everywhere and either someone fed her a pot brownie/cookie or she found it on a run on the beach or in the hills.  There's going to be more cases of accidental MJ poisoning as laws get loosened.  At the time I heard about this I thought about kids who accidentally eat Mommy's brownies.  Sad to say it's happening.  I am not anti-MJ, but I don't do it either.  It's like other potential poisons or dangerous items.  Keep it safe and away from kids and pets.

NicGiles
NicGiles

HAHA whats funny is all the kids got was stoned casue you cant get sick or od on pot!!

thompsonc
thompsonc

And in the news today...14 kids in Denver have ingested marijuana since legalization for recreational use...

 Isn't it a bit ridiculous that this is your focus Time?  This is hardly newsworthy and serves only to misinform the public.  Next thing you know it, we'll be reading about how immunizations are causing autism, with absolutely no scientific basis, scaring parents into failing to appropriately innoculate their children.  Oh...wait...the media is responsible for that too.  I just thought the editors at Time would have more sense than to publish this sort of nonsense.  For shame.

JohnChuckles
JohnChuckles

You can tell which posters are fiending over their marijuana addictions

WesDay
WesDay

I'm literally embarrassed for whatever editor let this slip across his desk and into publication.

FranciscoMunoz
FranciscoMunoz

How can you accidentally ingest Cannabis, freaking bs, they knew what they were doing >.>


jway87
jway87

Marijuana is non-toxic and lacks the ability to cause death or any serious harm at all in humans. Kids shouldn't be ingesting marijuana but they're not going to die if they do. Salt has a greater potential to cause harm to kids than marijuana. We should NOT be arresting 700,000 people/year for possessing this far safer and far less addictive alternative to alcohol!

levan
levan

Law enforcement is losing millions of dollars and resources because of these two States actions. Washington and Colorado are hurting the ability of police officers to confiscate property and fund their programs. If this trend continues to other states, we will see less people being persecuted for smoking marijuana and being labeled as a "bad person". These people will be able to mingle among us law abiding citizens without proper notice.  I am so scared of being subjected to these deviants.

But what really scares me is: My local law enforcement will lose funding. This could be catastrophic to the local real-estate auctions. 

In this economy, can we really limit government control?  I think not.