Protecting your children from pot poisoning

Cookies, candy, lollipops, all of these could be deadly for your kids.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

With the increase in availability, there has also been a rise in accidental cannabis poisonings by children.

Every state is going to face this issue sooner or later.

Robin Hackett is doing everything she can to keep kids away from these sweets. Keeping them locked in a child-resistant container is the law in Colorado.

Child-resistant packaging is required by the federal government for most pharmacueticals and poisonous products, and it's also required for cannabis.

Accidental pot poisonings spiked following an increase in the widespread sale of medical marijuana in Colorado in 2009.

"The majority of those kids actually did get into what we call marijuana edible products, brownies, cookies, candies, lollipops, and our concern about those were that the potentially high amounts of thc, the active ingredient of marijuana," said Dr. George Wang, Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Plants will be for smoking, but it's the edibles in her shop that would be likely to attract kids. That's why Hackett goes beyond what the law requires.

Robin hackett
"As a parent, you know your child,” Hackett said. “You know what type of security that you would need and the motivation of your child."

The best advice is to play it safe, even with medical marijuana, and lock it up.

While several states have legalized medical marijuana, it is still illegal at the federal level. And now, for the first time, in the states of Colorado and Washington, the use of recreational marijuana is legal.

REPORT #2068b.

BACKGROUND: Many teens experiment with marijuana. Friends, the portrayal of marijuana in the media, and peer pressure often affect a teenager's decision to use. Buying and using marijuana is illegal, but teen marijuana use is at its highest in 30 years, and teens are now more likely to use marijuana than tobacco. In 2011, a national study showed that one in eight 8th graders, one in four 10th graders, and one in three 12th graders have used marijuana in the past year. However, teenagers aren't the only ones consuming marijuana. From early 2005 to late 2009, Children's Hospital Colorado had exactly zero emergency-room visits by kids who had ingested marijuana. In the following two years, when medical marijuana became legal, it had 14. Studies of ER charts by Colorado doctors show that looser pot laws lead to childhood poisonings, often from mistakenly eating edibles like brownies, cookies, and lollipops. (Source: and

PREVENTION: Safety packaging, as in other medicines, "is a supplement to careful parenting that has been shown to work," Dr. Michael Kosnett was quoted as saying. Many marijuana industry members agree. They favor sending goods out the door under tamper-proof seal. However, they say they would rather not break each individual joint or candy into a high-tech, lockable bag whose cost -up to $7, even in bulk-might come close to the price of the edible itself. They'll have to buy so much tamper-proof packaging that people will just make it themselves at home. The challenge is with a pound of butter and some cannabis, anybody can make edibles," Robin Hackett, co-owner of Botana Care, was quoted as saying. Hackett and other members of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group say lockboxes and larger locking bags that buyers can use to transport larger purchases home should solve most of the safety problems. Researchers say individual safety packs would be best, but Hackett's current recommendation is better than nothing. (Source:

EFFECTS IN CHILDREN: Prescribed doses of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana products used to control nausea from chemotherapy, is between four and 12 milligrams for children ages two to four, based on body surface area. Some "edibles" have 300 milligrams of THC, according to Dr. Kosnett. The cases of pot poisoning in children at Children's Hospital Colorado included levels of consciousness and breathing trouble. Children can also vomit from ingesting too much of a strong substance and aspirate the vomit. The median age in the 14 patients was three years, and the range was eight months to 12 years, according to an abstract of the research published in the journal Clinical Toxicology. Accidental pot poisoning in children is also dangerous because ER doctors aren't looking for it as a cause of any symptoms they see. It can lead to invasive, expensive tests, like a spinal tap or CT scan, if parents are embarrassed or scared to mention the true cause. (Source:

? For More Information, Contact:

David Kelly
News Media Specialist
University of Colorado School of Medicine
(303) 315-6374

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