Accidental Ingestion of Cannabis Edibles on the Rise in Children

    According to the new study Pediatric Edible Cannabis Exposures and Acute Toxicity: 2017-2021, there has been a significant increase in the number of accidental ingestions of cannabis edibles by children in recent years.[1] Between 2017 and 2021, the number of reported cases of pediatric edible cannabis exposure increased by 1375%, resulting in 3054 cases in 2021. Nearly all cases happened in their own home (91%), which highlights the need for responsible storage when it comes to the use of cannabis edibles.

    A stack of three chocolate brownies.

    Edibles Are Especially Risky For Young Children

    One of the key findings of the study was that of pediatric cannabis exposures that occurred in children under the age of 6, though 3-year-old children were the median age throughout the study. This is likely due to the fact that younger children are more likely to put objects in their mouths and may not be able to distinguish between cannabis edibles and regular food.

    young girl child with curly hair is putting gummy candies in her mouth

    Another significant finding of the study was that the most common form of cannabis ingested by children was baked goods, such as brownies and cookies. These types of edibles are often attractive to children due to their sweet taste and appealing appearance.

    The most common symptoms reported among children who had ingested edible cannabis products were drowsiness, lethargy, and agitation. More severe symptoms, such as hallucinations and cardiovascular events, were also reported in some cases. The study found that younger children were more likely to experience severe symptoms, and that children with developmental delays were at higher risk for negative outcomes. A total of 2550 children were admitted to the hospital during this period, with 573 admitted into critical care units.[1No deaths were reported, but this is a preventable accident that no child (or parent) should have to experience.

    3 Steps You Can Take For Safer Storage

    So, what can be done to prevent accidental ingestion of cannabis edibles by children? Here are three tips for safer storage:

    1. Keep cannabis products in a secure location. Cannabis products should be stored in a locked cabinet or container that is out of reach of children. It is also a good idea to store cannabis products separately from regular food to avoid confusion. Whether you use one of our lockable cabinets, like Eleanor, or a safe or lockbox, a lockable storage solution is key.
      father in jeans and shirt carrying his young child who's back is to the camera, in front of a Forti Goods Eleanor lockable cabinet in oak wood.
    2. As a secondary measure, keep edibles clearly labeled. It's also important to keep edibles clearly labeled to avoid any confusion. The problem is that many young children can’t read yet. If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, you may remember the “Mr. Yuck” sticker that parents used to affix to bottles of cleaning chemicals under the sink. Consider affixing a skull & crossbones sticker or other brightly colored dot to things your young children should not ingest, including any food items containing THC.
    3. Talk to your children. In an age-appropriate way, educate your children that not all food is safe for them to consume. Encourage them to ask permission before eating anything they “find” and reward them when they do. It is important to explain to children that cannabis is a medication and should be treated with care.
      Mom and toddler son sitting on sofa having a sweet conversation

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, the findings of the article Pediatric Edible Cannabis Exposures and Acute Toxicity: 2017-2021 highlight the need for caution when it comes to the storage and use of cannabis edibles.The increasing legalization of medical and recreational cannabis is a good thing; however, it's also important to be responsible and take steps to prevent accidental ingestion by children. By keeping edibles securely stored, clearly labeled, and educating children about the dangers of ingesting these products, we can help to reduce the risk of accidental ingestion. Let’s protect the health and safety of our children.