The number of young children poisoned by eating their parents’ cakes has risen by 320% to a record high.
Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers School of Medicine in New Jersey, told DailyMail.com that she has seen a significant increase in the number of children exposed to cannabis in recent years.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found a significant increase in the number of children under the age of 11 accidentally ingesting cannabis foods after marijuana was legalized in 18 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.
Calello said that every time a drug or substance became more available, the number of poisonings increased, “and when you make it as attractive as edible cannabis…”
Calello said the problem with edibles is that they resemble candy or treats like cakes or brownies, making them irresistible to young children. The child could also eat a whole “candy bar” of food, that is, several doses.
The number of young children poisoned by eating their parents’ cakes has risen by 320% to a record high (image)
She said she saw a national and local trend for children to be exposed to edibles after an increasing number of states decided to legalize or decriminalize cannabis.
New Jersey voted to legalize marijuana in 2020, causing police and residents to relax their stance on the drug until the law was finally signed into law in February 2021.
National cases of cannabis food poisoning
CHILDREN AGED FIVE
CHILDREN AGED 6-12
“We saw a big jump[in poisonings]in 2020,” Calello said, adding that the numbers could also be affected by more people staying at home seeking to calm their anxiety during the lockdown.
The medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Service also dismissed the idea that weed is harmless and the myth that marijuana overdose is impossible.
“It could be dangerous for the baby,” she told us. “Convulsions are extremely rare in adults, but it takes much less time for children to become very ill.”
Calello added that she personally took care of a child who had a seizure due to a cannabis overdose and another who was on a ventilator.
Even mild symptoms can be extremely distressing for a young child.
In 2021, the New Jersey Poison Control Center treated 150 children, 99 of whom were under the age of five, who ate cannabis edibles.
For children under five, the figure rose from 73 in 2020 to just 31 in 2019. In two years, the number of incidents has increased by 320%.
The number of cases has increased nationally in recent years, from 187 cases among children aged 6-12 in 2016 to 370 in 2019.
But between 2019 and 2020, the number of cases increased dramatically.
34 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana in some form, including recreational use, medical use, and sale.
In the same age range, the number of cases increased by 573 from 370 to 943.
In the under-five age group, the number of cases has risen from 957 in 2019 to 2,119 in 2020, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
In total, more than 3,000 children had to undergo cannabis treatment in 2020.
“We definitely don’t have a shortage of kids who get their parents’ marijuana products. Usually these are children from 2 to 6 years old. This almost always includes edibles in the form of cakes, biscuits, or other things that kids might reasonably find healthy to eat,” Dr. Eric Lavonas, a toxicologist at the Denver Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Control Center, told US News.
Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers School of Medicine in New Jersey, told DailyMail.com that every time the drug became more available, there were more cases of poisoning.
“Children will come in very changed and unable to communicate with the environment, they are often sick,” he said. “The biggest danger is to make sure it’s not something else and that the child isn’t dehydrated.”
Even in states that have yet to legalize cannabis, American attitudes towards the drug and its availability thanks to the states that have legalized or decriminalized it means that access to it is greater than ever.
More than 90% of Americans now believe that marijuana should be legalized in some form, with nearly two-thirds saying they support legalization for both medical and recreational use, according to a new poll.
Less than one in ten, or 8 percent, said marijuana use should not be legal, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
The survey comes after Virginia and New York took steps to legalize marijuana last year.
Calello recommends locking up marijuana products and avoiding those packaged with cartoon figures and bright colors that may attract children.
More than 90% of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal in some form, according to the poll, with nearly two-thirds saying they support legalization for both medical and recreational use.
The Pew poll shows that the majority, in all age groups except for those 75 and older, believe that marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use.