FARMINGTON, Conn. — It's been exactly one week since Connecticut legalized the sale of adult-use recreational marijuana with only a select-few dispensaries having been certified. As that number grows, The Connecticut Poison Control Center is sending a warning out to parents: Keep your edible marijuana gummies away from your kids.
"Marijuana poisonings are preventable," Said Dr. Suzanne Doyon, Medical Director of the Connecticut Poison Control Center. "The way to prevent them is to keep them away from small hands. Keep them away from small children."
Since 2020, the center has seen around 200 cases of children being exposed to marijuana.
"A good chunk of them warrant visits to the emergency department. And 1/3 of them were hospitalized over night for one or two nights, sometimes in the intensive care unit," Dr. Doyon said.
With the legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana, they're worried that number will rise. It has happened in other states when they took the same legal actions. In fact, their numbers increased by ten-fold, according to U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
"If we are expecting a tenfold increase in the number of poisonings, that is a major public health threat. And it is totally, absolutely preventable," Sen. Blumenthal said.
There are laws in Connecticut to prevent kids from ingesting weed gummies. All product packaging needs to be all-white and unappealing to children under 21. It also needs to be in a child-safe, tamper-resistant and light resistant container.
However, Connecticut Attorney General, William Tong said they've seen counterfeit goods that don't follow the law.
"We've seen cannabis edibles that are packaged to look like Cheetos. I've seen a package that looks like it's for Oreos, but actually, they're called 'Stone-oes,'" Tong said.
And in that packaging, Tong said they're seeing higher-than-average THC levels, way over the legal and safe limit for an average adult. So, if a child gets their hands on a whole bag of it, it can be very dangerous.
"You can expose a young kid to as high as 128 times the legal safe amount for an adult," Tong said.
Which is why officials are making it clear that parents need to store any kind of marijuana away from their children, where they can't reach it or find it. And watch out for what kind of edibles you're buying.
Doyon did an experiment of her own, buying edibles from a local dispensary, and she didn't like what she found.
"It should be in a child-safe container. But that wasn't exactly what I received," Doyon said.
So, lawmakers like Tong and Blumenthal say they're trying to do more to prevent this.
"There's some ambiguity, and maybe an enforcement gap in our ability to go after people who sell counterfeit or bootleg or deceptively marketed products that look like snacks and candy. It's obviously very dangerous. I have some consumer protection powers and the state may have some criminal remedies and the feds may also have some criminal authority. But I think we need more," Tong said.
Tong said State Attorneys general have written a letter to our senators and other federal officials to encourage them to do more.
In the meantime, officials want parents to do what they can, too.
"For parents that have edibles at home, don't refer to them as candy. Don't treat them like candy. Don't refer to them as gummies," Doyon said.
Most importantly, Doyon said do not ever ingest the edibles in front of your children. They have the tendency to copy everything their parents do.
If your child does happen to ingest any kind of weed or weed gummies, once you figure that out, call the Connecticut Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222. They are open 24/7. If your child is already showing symptoms, take them to your nearest emergency room immediately.
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