New York: number of children intoxicated after ingesting cannabis candies rises

Several children have had to receive IV treatment for dehydration or intubation for breathing problems.

Since New York State legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults, the number of children who have accidentally gotten sick and drugged from consuming cannabis-infused candies has been increasing due to the negligence of some adults to leave this candy within reach of young kids.

Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island reported that cases of children treated for ingesting marijuana-containing products such as gummies, chocolates and brownies tripled in just over five years. Between 2017 and 2019, before the legal use of the drug was approved, there were only 4 cases. However, in 2021, when recreational marijuana was legalized, there were 14 episodes that year and 13 cases in 2022, according to the New York Post.

Analysis by Pediatrician Foy, Doctor Annamarie Fernandes and Cassie Wang, a medical student, indicates that the cases involving children range from 1 year old to 11. It also reports that the amount of cannabis consumed doesn’t need to be very high for a child to get sick.

Experts explained that if an infant weighing 30 pounds consumes just 2.5 milligrams of these products, it is enough to exceed the toxic threshold for them to get sick, and the most common edibles include 10 milligrams.

Young kids and children who eat these sweets may have symptoms such as red eyes, tachycardia, dry mouth, vomiting, dilated pupils, difficulty speaking and walking, lethargy, sudden drowsiness, fainting, or lack of coordination. Pediatrician Candice Foy, a doctor at Stony Brooks Children’s Hospital, says that in very severe cases, children have even received intravenous treatment for dehydration or intubation for respiratory problems.

Pediatrician Candice Foy mentioned that little ones often find these cannabis candies in cupboards, refrigerators, purses, or the freezer. In addition, she said that the most common episodes that come to the hospital are due to the consumption of gummies, but also typical is ingesting chocolate bars with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana or brownies with cannabis.

State law says doctors must report child protective abuse or parental neglect to child protective services, including children who come to the hospital having consumed marijuana.

“A lot of times it’s a mistake made by a good parent,” Foy said. “We had a grandma who passed a cannabis edible to a child by mistake,” she added.

The state of New York passed a regulation to make the candy containers opaque and childproof. However, Dr. Foy said it is best to keep these sweets in locked cabinets and for adults to avoid consuming them in front of children, although it is not a good idea to have cannabis products at home while children are present.