Unintended consequence of recreational marijuana use leads to greater risk of exposure to small children.
A new study just released has found that the rate of marijuana exposure in young children has increased 150 percent since the state relaxed the law against selling of pot for recreational use in 2014, according to a story in the New York Times. Many of the children are toddlers, reports the study, exposed when they ingest brownies, cookies, or candy they find on counters or cabinets at home. Although, not everyone is surprised.
When voters passed the legislation in 2012, many experts felt the increased possibilities for children being accidentally exposed to marijuana would lead to issues, but according to the study’s lead author, Dr. Genie E. Roosevelt, they were not prepared for an increase so dramatic. Roosevelt, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Denver Health Medical Center, said while these types of ingestion in children were not common, “the effects are significant and preventable.”
Children who accidentally eat marijuana treats can become lethargic and have bouts of vomiting and loss of balance, prompting their frightened parents to make a trip to the emergency room on call a poison control center. The study says a handful of patients had to be admitted into intensive care units.
Still, the actual number of cases is small, with 163 cases confirmed at the poison control center and another 81 treated at the hospital for the period between 2009 and 2015. But the 34 percent increase in cases in Colorado is almost twice the annual increase in other states at 19 percent.
The state required marijuana products to be sold in child-proof packaging in 2015, and this month, a new law, dubbed the gummy-bear law, goes into effect making it illegal to package edible marijuana in the shape of humans, animals or fruits, designs so tempting to children.
Colorado took in about $588 million in revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana in 2015, and an additional $408 million from the sale of medicinal pot, but the windfall is not without its own new set of problems. Just last week, residents of Hugo, Colorado, found their municipal water supply was contaminated with THC, the psychoactive chemical found in pot. Residents have been ordered not to drink tap water from the supply.
Findings from the study were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.