More children end up in the emergency room for eating sweets with cannabis: “Excess THC can be fatal”


An emergency pediatrician is warning about a rise in children accidentally consuming marijuana-laced edibles, which often look and taste like regular candy but cause more than a sugar high.

“Some children come in and are very sleepy and others are unresponsive,” said Dr. Meghan Martin. “Both scenarios are terrifying for families and are becoming increasingly common.”

In a recent TikTok video, Martin, known as @beachgem10 to her followers, shared the story of a little boy who was taken to the emergency room by his parents. They didn’t speak English. Martin noted that the family was from out of town and was staying at an Airbnb in Florida.

When they admitted the minor, the mother and father explained that that same day they went shopping and left their son with his 17-year-old brother.

“The older brother gave his little brother a McDonald’s burger and a chocolate bar and put him to bed at noon,” Martin said in his video. “When the family comes home at five o’clock and this child is unconscious. “They can’t wake him up.”

Martin recognized the signs of cannabis intoxication and suspected that the child had accidentally ingested a marijuana product. Martin’s assistant suggested he was showing signs of a stroke or diabetes.

“I thought, ‘I guess, let’s see what we find,’” Martin said.

The boy “was completely gone”

After the boy’s lab tests and CT scan came back normal, Martin ordered a urine drug test.

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Lo and behold, the test came back positive for THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. At that point, Martin asked the family to tell him more about the chocolate bar the boy had eaten earlier that day. The older brother responded that he found the candy under a bed at the Airbnb they rented.

“It was like a cookies and cream chocolate bar that contained 500 milligrams of THC, and the child had eaten about three-quarters of it,” Martin detailed. (For reference, a standard unit of THC is 5 mg, according to the National Institutes of Health.)

The boy “was completely gone,” he added.

More children eat sweets with cannabis

A study published earlier this year in the journal Pediatrics found that calls to poison control centers for children under 6 years old consuming cannabis-infused treats increased from 207 in 2017 to 3,054 in 2021.

About 97% of children discovered edibles at home, the report states.

Martin said the most common symptoms of accidental marijuana poisoning in children include balance problems, vomiting and excessive sleepiness. He notes that the effects of an edible can last up to 12 hours.

Deaths have also been reported from excessive exposure to THC”Warns Martin, noting that infants and young children are at risk of developing a breathing disorder called respiratory depression, which can cause brain injury and even death.

The Poison Control website indicates that some patients may require admission to the Intensive Care Unit.

Medical marijuana patients in care sample brownies at the first Los Angeles Cannabis Farmers Market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California, on July 4, 2014.Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images file

“But generally, we wouldn’t anticipate any long-term consequences once the effects of the medication have worn off,” Martin says.

What to do in case of poisoning?

If you suspect your child has consumed an edible, Martin recommends calling a poison control center first.

​“There are some situations where you might be able to cope at home,” he says. “But if your child develops symptoms, please go to the emergency department right away so we can monitor his breathing.”

Martin recommends treating edibles as you would prescription medications. They should be kept out of the reach of children and stored in a safe.

“Unfortunately, edibles look like regular candy and the packaging is very poorly labeled,” he says.

In 2021, a Florida mother wrote a Facebook post urging a change to the way marijuana products are packaged after her 6-year-old daughter was hospitalized overnight after accidentally consuming a marijuana-infused gummy that she mistook. with a candy.