Blue Ridge Poison Center seeing rise in accidental marijuana consumption
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The number of calls the Blue Ridge Poison Center at the University of Virginia received for kids accidentally consuming marijuana nearly tripled in 2022.
It rose from 26 in 2021 to 77 in 2022. More than two-thirds of those calls, a total of 52, were for kids under the age of five.
Dr. Chris Holstege, the director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center, says a lot of these calls are because a child mistook edible marijuana products for candy.
Children who accidentally consume marijuana edibles can experience rapid heart rates, low blood pressure, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, sedation, trouble breathing, and sometimes even seizures.
Holstege says as both a parent and a doctor, the proliferation of shops that sell these candy-like products is scary.
"Many of these products if you go into some of these shops, gum drops, caramels, other things, and the kids don't know the difference, and frankly some of these products I can't tell the difference, once they're out of the packaging especially," he said. "And then to have this distortion of reality, feeling horrible, then next thing you know, you're finding yourself in the emergency department, which a majority of these cases are, and then a subset of those have to be admitted to the hospital, certainly, I think, a horrible experience for those kids and a horrible experience typically for the parents."
The overall number of calls to the Blue Ridge Poison Center for accidental consumption of marijuana edibles among children has risen rapidly in recent years.
Back in 2018, there was just one call, then four in 2019, and 11 in 2020.
These calls likely represent just a fraction of the cases of accidental consumption that actually occur, as the poison center is not called every time a child accidentally ingests a marijuana edible.
Officials with the Blue Ridge Poison Center say parents should keep any products with marijuana in them out of reach of children, and parents should closely read ingredient lists so they can see what's in the products before buying them.