Reports of children in Mississippi who found and ate marijuana-laced candies and chocolates at home resulting in emergency room visits increased sharply last year, the state's poison control center said in a statement.
In 2019, the medical center received two calls concerning the ingestion of edible marijuana products. By 2022, the total number of calls had spiked to 36. Fourteen of those calls were in children ages 0 to 12 and three were in teenagers ages 13 to 19, according to Jenna Davis, the managing director of the Mississippi Poison Control Center which is part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
"In the past 10 days, we’ve already had four calls for kids ages 0-6," Davis said in a statement Tuesday. "And statewide, these cases are underreported."
The medical center warned the calls will continue to rise with marijuana dispensaries slated to open across the state this year.
Davis also warned that products laced with THC such as candy, gummies and chocolates appeal to children and adults should store them like they would medication, in a secure place out of the sight and reach of children.
"It’s hard to overdose on marijuana, but some of these gummies contain very large doses and some kids are eating a whole lot of them," Davis said.
In addition to central nervous system depression, overdoses can cause rapid heartbeat, vomiting, confusion, difficulty walking and drowsiness, and in extreme situations, respiratory distress and seizures, Davis said.
Davis said there is a growing number of children who get their hands on the products containing Delta 8 THC which are available online and in convenience stores and are not regulated.
"It has very similar effects to the other components of marijuana that produce euphoria," Davis said. "We receive tons of calls on this, and it’s increasing, for all ages."
An study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics earlier this month found there was a surge in reported cases of children exposed to edible cannabis resulting in acute toxicity from 2017 to 2021.
In 2021 there were reported 3,054 cases, up from just 207 reported cases in 2017, representing a 1,375% increase in cases. Seventy percent caused central nervous system depression, according to the article.
Most exposures happened in a residential setting, according to the article.
Of all the reported cases, nearly 23% of patients were admitted to the hospital, according to the article.