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Uptick in NY Kids Getting Sick from Eating Cannabis Candy Ignites Safety Concerns

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Edited by: TJVNews.com

As cannabis legalization continues to expand across the United States, a concerning issue has emerged in New York and other states: an alarming increase in accidental cannabis ingestion among children, as was reported by the New York Post. With the legalization of marijuana for adult use in New York in 2021, the availability of cannabis-infused edibles has grown substantially. Unfortunately, this has led to a surge in cases of children mistakenly consuming these products, often resulting in severe illness, the Post report said.

Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island has reported a significant rise in the number of children presenting with prolonged or serious toxic exposure after ingesting marijuana-laced edibles, such as gummies. According to the Post report, the statistics are troubling, with cases nearly tripling from just five instances in 2020 to 14 cases in 2021 and 13 cases in the following year.

Dr. Candice Foy, a pediatrician at SUNY Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, has been at the forefront of addressing this issue. The Post reported that she noted that the appeal of candy-like edibles is enticing for children, leading to inadvertent ingestion. In some heartbreaking cases, even grandparents have mistakenly passed cannabis edibles to their grandchildren, thinking they were ordinary candies.

The symptoms experienced by children who consume these edibles can range from passing out or sudden sleepiness to slurred speech, impaired motor skills, lethargy, dry mouth, dilated pupils, red eyes, rapid heartbeats, and vomiting, as was indicated in the Post report.  In severe cases, children have had to be intubated for breathing difficulties or receive IV treatment for dehydration. These cases involve children aged 1 to 11 years old, highlighting the vulnerability of a wide age range of youngsters.

One concerning aspect is that children who encounter THC-infused edibles often believe they are consuming regular candy, not realizing that THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. According to the Post report, even a small amount of cannabis can make a child sick, and it doesn’t take much to surpass the toxic threshold. For instance, a 30-pound toddler ingesting just 2.5 milligrams (a fraction of the typical 10-mg edible) would exceed the toxic threshold and become ill.

These accidental ingestions can happen in various settings. Toddlers and young children have discovered cannabis candy in purses, cabinets, refrigerators, and even freezers. The Post report stated that Dr. Foy recalled an incident where a child looking for an ice pop found cannabis in the freezer. The majority of cases at Stony Brook involved cannabis gummies, but pot-laced brownies and THC-infused chocolate bars were also involved.

Under New York state law, doctors are obligated to report suspected cases of parental neglect or child abuse when children are admitted to the hospital for ingesting marijuana. However, The Posr reported that Dr. Foy emphasized that many times, these incidents are genuine mistakes made by well-intentioned parents.

These concerning findings echo a study conducted in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. The Post report said that researchers in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety examined hospital records for children under six who consumed cannabis-infused gummies between January 1, 2015, and October 25, 2022. The study found 151 cases of children consuming edible cannabis, with 53% of them meeting the criteria for “harmful exposure.” On average, the children in the study were three years old.

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