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Reporting a Medication Error

Study Shows an Increase in Reports of Young Children Eating Edible Cannabis by Mistake

Published May 26, 2023

A recent study found that there has been an increase in young children mistakenly eating edible cannabis (marijuana) over a 5 year period (2017 to 2021). The study includes cases reported to US poison control centers. In 2017, there were 207 cases which increased to 3,054 cases in 2021. Most of the children were under the age of 5, and these events primarily happened in their own homes.

Figure 1. Edible marijuana Nerds Rope candy (left) contains 400 mg of THC. This looks very similar to the Nerds Rope candy (right) that is meant for children.

In August 2020, we shared concerns about edible marijuana products that look like brands of candy commonly found in stores. Not only do these copycat products look like the name-brand candy, but their packaging is also very similar. The edible cannabis products contain the same main active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This may make you feel euphoric (happy) and relaxed, but may also cause memory loss. In addition, some of these products contain such a high dose of THC, even an adult could be seriously sickened by eating the entire package.

Figure 2. Other examples of packages that look like regular candy but contain THC.

An example of edible marijuana candy that looks like regular candy is the Nerds Rope candy (Figure 1). There are also Sour (Stoney) Patch Kids, Cannaburst Gummies, and Sour Fruit Juicy Bombs made with THC (Figure 2), which are packaged very similar to what a child may have previously had. Some edible marijuana products also resemble other snack foods, such as Doritos Nacho Cheese chips. Child access to all these copycat products can be an even bigger problem in states where recreational and medical marijuana edibles are legal.

If a child eats an edible marijuana product, they could start to act peculiar, have strange movements, or be extra sleepy and hard to wake up. For example, if a child eats a pack of Nerds Rope marijuana candy containing 400 mg of THC, they will become very sick. They may trip and fall, or pass out.

Here’s what you can do: Do not purchase edible marijuana products if you have children living in your home. If you use edible marijuana products, keep them locked up and away where children cannot see or reach them, even if children are not living in your home. Do not use/eat edible marijuana products in front of children. If you think or know a child has eaten an edible marijuana product or is acting unusual, bring them to the nearest emergency department as soon as possible. Your child may be sick for a while but will usually get better.

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