Medical workers in Illinois are warning adults to keep marijuana edibles away from kids, after an “alarming” jump in the number of accidental consumptions.
The number of exposures to edible cannabis among children 5 and younger from 2017-2021 reported in Illinois increased from 5 to 232 cases — a 4,500% increase. Most of the increase was during the pandemic years of 2020-2021. Illinois legalized recreational marijuana in 2020.
Nationally, researchers found the number of cases rose from 207 in 2017 to 3,054 in 2021, an increase of almost 14 times.
“We are experiencing an increased amount of poison center calls and hospital visits involving children who unintentionally consumed cannabis edibles,” said Illinois Poison Center Medical Director Michael Wahl, one of the authors of the study. “IPC advises parents to store THC edibles in a safe place that is out of the reach of children and avoid buying edibles that look like candy or a treat that a child would be eager to try. These unintentional ingestions are causing minor to severe reactions in children, including vomiting, seizures and coma.”
As the Tribune first reported last year, the number of calls for people of all ages to the Illinois Poison Center for cannabis rose from 487 in 2019, to 743 in 2020, the year recreational weed was legalized in the state, and increased to 855 in 2021. Most of the calls were for unintentional consumption of edibles by people who didn’t know what they were eating.
Most cases were not severe and were resolved over the phone, but some required hospitalization until the effects wore off.
The poison center offered the following tips to keep kids safe:
Store weed gummies and other edibles like medication, in child-resistant containers out of reach of kids, and not in the kitchen.
Store in non-see-through containers, not in clear containers like baggies.
Avoid buying edibles packaged to look like candy.
Don’t consume THC products in front of children.
Ask family, friends and caregivers to follow those precautions as well.