Make a New Year’s Resolution to protect kids from cannabis edibles, says California Poison Control

Children don’t know that the colorful cannabis edibles wrapped in packages that often mimic familiar-looking brands of gummies, candies and other snacks can be risky for them to eat. But you do. And according to California Poison Control , these edibles can increase the risk of accidental poisoning and send these children to the emergency room.

Edibles have become so pervasive that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of incidents in which children younger than 5 are eating edible cannabis products being reported to CPCS. In 2022, exposure to a cannabis edible was responsible for more than half of the cannabis-related calls to CPCS: 62 percent for 5 years and under, 57 percent for 6-19 years, and 43 percent for 20 and older.

The age-adjusted rate of cannabis-related calls to CPCS has more than doubled since 2016, increasing to 5.93 per 100,000 in population in 2022 (from 2.20 per 100,000 in population in 2016).

The largest increases were seen in cannabis exposure among youths:

  • 445 percent increase in the total number of calls related to cannabis exposure among children aged 5 years and under.
  • 151 percent increase in the total number of calls related to cannabis exposure among those aged 6–19 years.
  • 61 percent increase in the total number of calls related to cannabis exposure among those aged 20 years and older.

“Edibles are particularly appealing to children because they may be packaged in chocolates, gummies, cookies, and other snacks. A kid’s curiosity, plus a higher relative exposure compared to adults, can result in a significant overdose of cannabis,” sayid Cyrus Rangan, MD, a pediatrician and medical toxicologist with CPCS. “Additionally, because it may take edibles longer to reach their peak effect, people may not initially realize that the child is experiencing an accidental poisoning.” Dr. Rangan is available to discuss this important topic.

Signs that your child has eaten an edible:

  • Acts confused;
  • Is drowsy;
  • Walks unsteadily;
  • Experiences dizziness;
  • Has breathing difficulties;
  • Experiences seizures;
  • Has a rapid heart rate; and
  • Is vomiting.

Precautions you can take to prevent your child from having an accidental overdose from edibles:

  • Never use edible products in front of children.
  • Purchase edibles that come in child-resistant packaging.
  • Don’t purchase edibles that could be mistaken for candy or another common food.
  • Store edibles safely out of reach of children (a locked location is best) — and be sure that friends or relatives who visit or care for your child do the same.
  • Keep edible products in the original packaging.

What to do if your child has eaten an edible:

  • If you believe that your child might have ingested cannabis, call CPCS at (800) 222-1222 to speak with someone right away.
  • If you think they are in immediate danger, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

About CPCS
Call Poison Control at (800) 222-1222 (number is the same in all states) for questions about poison encounters. Trained pharmacists, nurses and other providers are available to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free, confidential and interpreters are available. Get weekly tips about safety by texting TIPS to 20121 for English or texting PUNTOS to 20121 for Spanish. Follow CPCS on Facebookand on Twitter @poisoninfo. CPCS is part of the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy and is responsible to the California Emergency Medical Services Authority.