The kids, as they say, are all on the pot, listening to their rock ‘n roll, and drag racing down their cul-de-sacs. But there’s a twist! These pot-crazed, drag racing youths are not high because they were convinced by some local rapscallion to “just toke on some reefer” — they accidentally ingested a marijuana-infused baked good, thinking, perhaps, that they were enjoying a harmlessly cloying cookie or individual-sized cake snack.
A new study released Monday the JAMA Pediatrics revealed that Colorado’s recently liberalized marijuana laws are having what perhaps should be an obvious effect on small children too guileless and hungry to differentiate between weed cookies and cookie cookies: more young children are being treated for accidentally eating marijuana-laced baked goods. Researchers compared the number of children treated at the Children’s Hospital Colorado emergency department for ingesting marijuana before and after the modification of Colorado’s drug laws in 2009. Want to guess what they found?
A total of 1,378 patients under age 12 were evaluated for unintentional ingestions – 790 before Sept. 30, 2009 and 588 after Oct. 1, 2009. The number of children treated for exposure to marijuana before Sept. 30 was zero. The number from Oct. 1 on was 14 with eight of those coming directly from consuming marijuana food products.
According to George Wang, MD, the study’s lead author, contemporary marijuana confections are far more potent than their predecessors of the mid-to-late 20th century. A weed candybar, for instance, can contain as much as 300 milligrams of THC, which can send some unwitting child on a long, wobbly afternoon trip to the emergency room. After ingesting weed treats, kids can exhibit symptoms that include respiratory problems, extreme sleepiness, difficulty in walking, and lethargy, forcing inexperienced physicians unfamiliar with the effects of THC on a kid who thought it was just stealing a pre-dinner cookie to subject ailing children to batteries of tests. Think about that for a minute: a kid, stoned out of his/her mind, has to be rushed to the emergency room, where a bewildered doctor does a whole lot of head-scratching and needle-prodding for a few panicked hours. That’s literally a nightmare.
Wang drew the following conclusion about just what needs to be done to protect kids from stray weed snacks:
Before the marijuana boom these kinds of edibles were not mass-produced and the amount of THC ingested was somewhat limited, but now we are seeing much higher strength marijuana. The key to this is prevention through child resistant packaging.
Yup, pretty soon there will be regular cookies, and then there will be puzzlebox cookies, which children will hone their motor skills on until they are finally rewarded with a taste of dizzingly sweet chocolate chips.
Image via Getty, Chris Hondros