700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Keeping Kids Safe Around Marijuana Edibles

Oct 25, 2023
photo of gummy bears

As a pediatrician in training, I have seen too many children come into the Emergency Department or admitted to the hospital with abnormal behavior or difficulty breathing from eating marijuana edibles. As these products become increasingly popular and more widely available, this is happening more often. America’s Poison Centers reported 6,379 cases of cannabis edibles being taken by children between the ages of 0-12 in 2022, over 2,000 more cases than the year before. This equates to about a class of preschoolers each day eating cannabis edibles.

THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, has been added to all sorts of foods, such as chips and candies, and even drinks. These goods and their packaging can look like well-known brands, enticing children who may not be able to tell the difference between marijuana edibles and their safe snack lookalikes. Edible cannabis products are especially dangerous for young children for three reasons:

  • Their appealing packaging and products can look like tasty treats.
  • They are not always regulated and can have large amounts of THC. This dosing can be too much for children, especially when consumed in large amounts.
  • The effects of eating edibles can be delayed. This lag can mean children may eat a lot before it is known what has happened. It also means families may not know why their child is acting sick by the time the effects are noticed.

I urge all parents and caregivers to follow a few simple steps to keep children safer:

  • Store safely or not at all. The best way to keep your children safe from marijuana edibles is to keep them out of your home. If you do have them in your home, store them in a safe place away from your children where they will not simply come across them. Treat them like any other medications – stored up, away, and out of sight.
  • Use them away from children. It is helpful to never use these products in front of your children. Not only could this affect your ability to care for them, but it could also potentially encourage them to copy you and try them as well. While the amount of THC in these products may not cause harmful effects in adults, they are not intended for use by children and, therefore, could be very dangerous for them.
  • Talk to friends, family, and all caregivers. Talk with anyone your child might be around about marijuana edibles and how to keep these products away from your children. Without judgement, you can simply remind them that children are curious and if they find edibles, they may consume them, and it could be very dangerous for them. Remember, you are looking out for your child and their best interests.

If you have questions or concerns about an ingestion, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 to speak with an expert immediately, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Featured Expert

Ali Sawani
Ali Sawani, DO
Pediatrics Resident

Ali Sawani, DO is a third-year pediatrics resident at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He has a passion for being a voice for vulnerable children everywhere and has carried out numerous projects to do so.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.