Marijuana can actually expose your kids to certain risks. This is because part of the growing marijuana industry is associated with cannabis edibles. Cannabis edibles are candy, drops, or food containing pure THC, the oil that is extracted from cannabis plants.
The danger behind cannabis edibles is that they do not look, taste, or smell like cannabis. This makes them a potential danger for young kids.
It is not possible for kids to know whether they are eating cannabis edibles because they cannot easily tell the difference between them and other edibles. Many of them look like ordinary candy. This means that they can eat then unknowingly or eat them in large amounts, leading to unintended consequences.
According to Dr. George Wang, who works with Denver Health Medical Center, the danger associated with cannabis ingestion is reflected in the increased number of calls coming into the Colorado Poison Centre. He is quoted as saying there is an increase in the number of young kids who are unintentionally exposed to marijuana.
The real risk to young kids lies with the possibility of ingesting high doses of THC contained in the cannabis edibles. For instance, a single bite of chocolate truffle has 15 servings of THC in it. This is equivalent to 3 puffs on a joint. Essentially, what this means is that if a young child consumes a single unit of truffle, the amount of THC ingested would be more than significant. Some of the kids admitted in the Colorado Poison Centre had very severe symptoms which necessitated their admission to the critical care unit. According to Dr. Wang, a large percentage of cannabis calls to the Poison Centre line involve young kids aged from 2 to 4.
Symptoms of THC overdose in kids
The symptoms of THC overdose in kids include:
In addition, THC is known to produce serious anxiety attacks as well as psychotic-like symptoms if ingested in high doses. Cannabis is also metabolized in a different way when ingested as opposed to when it is smoked. Ingested marijuana takes time to take effect, but can produce more severe symptoms.
Another thing that is likely to cause concern is that the easy availability of child-friendly cannabis edibles could entice young kids to try the drug.
Other ways of exposing kids to cannabis
Children can also be exposed to marijuana if their mothers use weed while pregnant or breastfeeding. Some doctors are saying that a number of women confess to using weed for morning sickness during their pregnancy. Other parents are known to allow their children to smoke weed just simply because it has been legalized.
It is the fact that children´s central nervous systems, brains and bodies are still in a developmental phase which means that cannabis can cause more harm to them than the benefits it brings to adults. Under no circumstances should a young child be continuously exposed to the active ingredients in marijuana. Just because weed may have medicinal or recreational benefits for the over 18s does not mean it will do the same for children.
What is the way forward?
In order to reduce the potential health hazards of young kids ingesting large amounts of cannabis unknowingly, there should be strict restrictions on the packaging and formulation of marijuana edibles. In addition, such restrictions should ideally be implemented immediately when a particular state legalizes cannabis for recreational or medicinal use.
On a brighter note, the states of Colorado and Washington, which were among the first states to legalize marijuana, require manufacturers of cannabis edibles to package them in child-resistant packaging. These two states also require all cannabis products to be labelled with their respective serving size as well as a warning to “keep out of reach of children ’’. However, these measures are not really enough to fully protect young kids.
Essentially, more needs to be done in order to reduce the likelihood of people confusing marijuana products with other regular products. Government authorities should also ensure that all cannabis products’ dosing is consistent.
As in the case of all legal intoxicants, the risk of exposure to young children is high. It is not enough for there to be regulations imposed by the law, although, if marijuana were federally legal, it’s likely that there would be an increase in security measures and education about the risks. Even if this were to take effect, parents must be extremely vigilant if children are in the same environment as their choice of recreational marijuana. Proactiveness in keeping the products out of reach is key and perhaps a candid conversation with the little ones will go a far in keeping them out of harm’s way.
All that being said, marijuana has been found to effectively reduce the ammount of epileptic fits in some young children and has also cured other ailments. The ultimate way forward is to become informed, do your research and seek professional advice.
Here’s is a great TED talk that explores the curing effects of marijuana in children, as well as the risks: