The number of kids ingesting cannabis on the rise. Ways to keep children safe

Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 5:33 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Excitement for candy and costumes is growing with Halloween just around the corner. However, not all candy is safe for kids.

Slowly, more states are legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, with both being legal in Arizona. However, the number of accidental exposures among young children is rising across the state and country.

Arizona is one of 23 states, plus DC, which has established a legal market for medical and recreational cannabis. And today, 40 states have some sort of medical marijuana market available.

Arizona has over 140 authorized dispensaries selling THC products in many forms, including edibles.

When placed side by side with a snack or piece of candy, edibles can be quite dangerous. In 2021, there were over 3,000 cases of accidental cannabis exposure – all those patients were young children.

“You might see a package or something that looks like nerds; those would be from an unregulated source in Arizona,” said Ann Torrez, the Arizona Dispensaries Association executive director.

“A regulated edible is in packaging that’s not necessarily attracted to children; it’s not something that mimics a product that’s sold to children.”

Another way to tell you to have a regulated and legal product is by asking for the product’s lab results. Any authorized dispensary should have no issue providing that.

“If you want to see those test results and if it matches the potency level or if there are any contaminants in there, you have the right as a consumer at any point in time to ask for those results any time you purchase from a dispensary,” Torrez said.

Even with safeguards in place, accidents still happen.

Sixty-three children across Pima, Pinal, Cochise and Santa Cruz Counties were reported to have accidentally consumed cannabis from 2019 up until today.

In case a child does consume an edible, be on the lookout for symptoms like confusion, dizziness, or vomiting. Severe cases may include seizing or trouble breathing.

Whatever the case, call the poison control center right away.

However, things get a little tricky when it comes to those unregulated items.

There are often things in there that we’re not aware of, so that means they can cause more severe health effects, and we don’t exactly what was in the product to cause those effects,” said Cori Canton.

Canton is an Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center community outreach specialist.

Canton recommends anyone in possession of cannabis products treat cannabis like prescriptions. Some solutions include a lockable bag or shelf or keeping it high away from children.

There are even ways to verify if the state approves a dispensary. You can search for a dispensary on the Arizona Dispensaries Association’s website, or you can head to the state health department and verify it there as well.

If you or someone you know is exposed to a drug or substance, you can call Arizona Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. In case of an emergency, call 911.

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