Michigan Sees Increase In The Number Of Children Poisoned By Marijuana Edibles

'They go unresponsive; many don't breathe,' said Dr. Cynthia Aaron.

a rack of marijuana edibles
nickolette / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0 Cropped, resized.)

'They go unresponsive; many don't breathe,' said Dr. Cynthia Aaron.

Children are turning up in emergency rooms in Michigan, sickened from having eaten marijuana edibles, which are legal in the state, MLive reports.

In 2018, Michigan voters authorized the retail sale of medical marijuana products, including so-called “edibles” — that is, snacks or candy or other food products infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. That same year, voters also agreed to legalize recreational marijuana.

So far, retail sales of recreational marijuana haven’t yet gotten off the ground in Michigan, but users with medical marijuana “cards” have been purchasing edibles at medical marijuana dispensaries. And in some cases, those edibles have gotten ingested by children.

Specifically, in 2017, the year before legalization, only six Michigan children turned up in emergency rooms sickened by marijuana edibles. In 2018, the year voters passed the two legalization initiatives, that number rose to 46. So far in 2019, the number stands at 59, as of this writing.

Dr. Cynthia Aaron, medical director for the Poison Control Center at Wayne State University, describes the symptoms that some emergency rooms are seeing after kids get sick from eating edibles.

“They go unresponsive; many don’t breathe. They’re not interacting; they’re sleepy… some kids may complain of being dizzy; stumbling around.”

In adults, an “overdose” on marijuana edibles can result in nausea, vomiting, paranoia, and in some cases, hallucinations and psychosis. In children, however, the effects are considerably more pronounced. Specifically, THC is believed to suppress their breathing. And indeed, Aaron says that some sickened children have spent time in the Intensive Care Unit, getting breathing support through a breathing machine.

cereal marijuana edibles
  Mark / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

As of this writing, there have been no deaths from children overdosing on marijuana edibles.

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The problem is amplified, says Dr. Aaron, by the fact that the packaging of marijuana edibles doesn’t accurately indicate the dose. A single marijuana chocolate bar, for example, may actually contain ten recommended doses of THC, but children (and indeed, many adults) don’t fully understand that, and may consume the whole thing.

Dr. Aaron suggests that marijuana edibles, and other marijuana-derived products, be treated like any other medicine in the home, and locked up safely away from kids. And indeed, Michigan is even offering free lock boxes to marijuana users in order to help them keep their stash safe from kids.

Elsewhere, people are also getting sick from ingesting marijuana another way: through inhaling vaporized oil, or “vaping.”

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, hundreds of people across the country have come down with severe respiratory distress after vaping, and indeed, some have even died. While many of the illnesses and deaths are attributed to vaping nicotine, some have been tied to vaping cannabis. The legal marijuana industry is calling on the federal government to legalize marijuana at the federal level so its product can be subjected to the same consumer protections, regulations and controls that other consumer products are given.