The state of Colorado has seen a dramatic increase in emergency room admissions of children who have ingested marijuana. Officials there are looking at the state’s recent legalization of marijuana use for medical purposes as the cause. For patients who do not want to smoke the drug, marijuana infused edibles such as brownies, lollipops and candies are the preferred method of intake. Apparently this is risky as children are used to snacking on these items as well.
In one study, in 57 months between 2005 and 2009, there were no reported cases of children admitted to the ER for marijuana ingestion. After the law was relaxed in 2009, in a 27 month period between 2009 and 2011, there were 14 such cases. Two of the children ended up in intensive care.
Massachusetts appears to have learned from Colorado’s example and will require that any medical marijuana products be sold in child-proof packaging. Massachusetts’s Department of Public Health, given the responsibility for oversight of the Commonwealth’s new medical marijuana program, recently published a set of regulations for the program that is being hailed as “the gold standard” for such programs.
Dr. Sharon Levy, from Boston’s Children’s Hospital notes that while many of the adolescents treated in the hospitals specialized program are aware of the dangers of tobacco use, most do not understand the risks of marijuana use including potential mood, anxiety and thought disorders.
Although marijuana has now been approved for medical use in Massachusetts, the active ingredient, THC is still a drug with some risks and must be managed accordingly.