Wayne State's Poison Center notes spike in cases of kids as young as 6 eating edibles

Children are increasingly being exposed to edibles baked with marijuana.

The Michigan Poison Center at of Wayne State University reports that more than half of its calls in 2019 concerning marijuana exposure through "brownies, chocolate bars, candy and gummies involved children as young as 6 years old."

The center attributes the uptick to the 2018 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in the state of Michigan.

"Wherever you start seeing legalization, kids are going to have more access to it by sheer numbers and probability to it," said Andy King, the director of the Emergency Medicine and Toxicology fellowship program. "A lot of the edibles are so desirable to children. This is the age that really can't read, and they're going to (sneak) a cookie or steal a gummy bear."

Since the start of 2019, the Michigan Poison Center received 420 calls related to marijuana exposure, 104 of them involving children under the age of 18. More than half of those calls concerned edibles, with the bulk cases being under 6 years old. 

Those numbers draw a stark contrast with calls fielded in 2017, where the center had six calls. In 2014, they had one.

Physicians said children don't have a bad trip when they eat it. Kids around the ages of 2 or 3 years may become unresponsive, stop breathing and require a breathing tube.

The news release also cited a decade-long study from the France that looked at children who ingested marijuana. It showed 80 of them having neurologic symptoms like drowsiness, loss of balance, dizziness, floppiness, agitation and comas.

However, the Michigan Poison Control's news release stressed the importance of knowing that marijuana affects people differently in edible form. Children weigh less than adults, which amplifies the effects of THC-infused products.

King recommends all edibles be locked in a box to ensure safety. Because so many cases involved children consuming edibles meant for a friend or family member, often those kids mistook the food for a treat.

"They can get really sick from the adult products. They can have pretty scary and profound dramatic presentations," said King. "Some can be so sleepy they have to be intubated. It can last for a long time. They don't hit you right away like smoking does, they take a long time. It's such a long-acting drug. They can be pretty sick for a day or two. And then lingering sick for two days. There's no antidote for it."