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The Parents Guide to Preventing Accidental Cannabis Consumption by Kids

the parents guide to preventing accidental cannabis consumption by kids

When you search for cannabis edibles online, you might expect to find tasty treats, but what you actually see might surprise you. Instead of yummy snacks, you might come across news stories about kids going to the hospital because they accidentally ate cannabis products.

Most of the time, it’s cannabis edibles causing these problems. Despite regulations in states that prohibit packaging or product designs that appear as cartoons or candy to children, edibles are the most common products involved in cases of accidental ingestion.

Using cannabis responsibly means keeping it safely locked away so kids and pets can’t get to it. Cannabis can be really dangerous for them and might even put their lives at risk. The majority of accidental cannabis poisoning incidents involving children require emergency medical care.

Where you keep your cannabis goodies—whether it’s cookies, gummies, or other treats—makes a big difference. In this article, we’ll talk about what happens when kids accidentally eat cannabis edibles, how to tell if it’s happened, and what to do if you think your child has eaten some.

Understanding The Risks: Cannabis and Child Safety

Cannabis affects children differently than it does adults. Parents who use medical cannabis to help with chronic pain or other symptoms develop a mild to moderate tolerance to cannabinoids (specifically THC) over time. Children with no previous exposure to cannabis can experience severe adverse effects.

If a child consumes cannabis, adults are advised to observe the child’s symptoms and contact poison control for guidance. A medical assessment will help monitor the child’s condition and administer medications or other interventions to reduce harm and complications.

In some jurisdictions, healthcare providers are required by law to report all cases of accidental cannabis ingestion by minors. This may cause some parents to consider care at home, but it is important to remember that serious health complications can arise beyond discomfort and intoxication.

Cannabis can cause adverse and potentially life-threatening symptoms, including hypotension and breathing difficulties. The higher the potency of cannabis consumed, the greater the risk of serious health complications and adverse effects.

Before you leave for the hospital or urgent care clinic for a pediatrics evaluation, take a picture of the ingredient label of the product your child consumed. The potency or content of the product and an estimation of how much was consumed will help providers care for your child.

how to store medical cannabis

What Are The Signs of Accidental Consumption in Children?

After a child eats cannabis edibles, you may not be able to detect the symptoms right away. Unlike smokable intake methods, edibles must pass through the digestion and be metabolized before cannabinoids enter the bloodstream.

For adults, the psychoactive effects of cannabis edibles may be felt anywhere from one hour to ninety minutes after ingestion. This is also affected by body mass, and small children may begin to display symptoms of cannabis intoxication from edibles in less than an hour.

If you suspect your child may have consumed edible marijuana, it is important to monitor them closely while you seek medical advice and attention. Poison control may advise that you keep your child awake and upright to prevent trouble breathing or risks of aspirating due to vomiting.

There are other symptoms that parents should watch for if they are uncertain whether their child has accidentally consumed marijuana edibles or other cannabis products.

Unusual Behavior or Noticeable Mood Changes

You know what the psychoactive effects feel like, and welcome them for symptom relief. Children are unfamiliar with feelings of impairment and can display sudden changes in behavior or mood. That can include symptoms of lethargy, confusion, and anxiety.

storing medical cannabis with teens in the home

Red or Bloodshot Eyes

The first and easiest sign to detect if you suspect your child has consumed a cannabis edible is bloodshot eyes. Smokable cannabis is not the only intake method that causes the appearance of eye irritation. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) causes vasodilation, or the dilation of blood vessels in the eyes.

Low blood pressure can also contribute to the appearance of red eyes after cannabis consumption. Dry eyes are another side effect because THC can interfere with the function of tear ducts, leading to irritation.

Impaired Motor Coordination Skills

If your child is exhibiting signs of unsteady movement, problems walking, or clumsiness, that may be the first sign you may observe, leading you to suspect the child ate cannabis edibles. Cannabis intoxication can hinder normal coordination and motor skills.

Increased Appetite

A voracious hunger appearing out of nowhere may also be a sign when a child consumes cannabis. The active ingredient (THC) stimulates the release of dopamine and ghrelin (the hunger hormone), which increase appetite.

If your child is showing signs of moderate drowsiness and nausea, you may choose to provide water for hydration, but avoid feeding them snacks until you have consulted with a healthcare provider.

childproof cannabis storage

Drowsiness and Slurred Speech

Sudden symptoms of fatigue, tiredness, or unusual lethargic behavior can indicate your child has ingested cannabis edibles. Also, problems with speech, difficulty articulating words, and speaking more slowly than usual can also be signs.

Symptoms of Anxiety or Paranoia

Children may be more prone to experiencing psychoactive symptoms of anxiety caused by cannabis compared to adults. Irrational fearfulness or paranoia and increased reactivity to stimuli (becoming easily startled by sounds, etc.) may indicate accidental cannabis consumption. Cannabis can alter perception and sensory experiences.

How Can You Protect Your Child?

Prevention is the most important thing you can do to protect your child from accidental cannabis consumption. Creating a safe environment for children means careful consideration regarding where you store your cannabis products.

Do not leave your medical cannabis exposed where children can access them. A locked cabinet is the best way to keep kids safe. If placing all products in a secure locked cabinet is not possible, you can find affordable lock boxes or bags where you can store your supplies safely. A combination lock is the best way to secure cannabis products out of the reach of children.

Most children cannot tell the difference between a THC edible and candy. If children see adults consuming it, they may mimic that behavior. Try to avoid taking your cannabis edible or marijuana products in front of minors.


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