More young children are accidentally eating weed edibles, and Canada's pediatricians have had enough.
In a new submission to Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) called on the government to put children first when regulating edibles, extracts, and topicals. The submission, highlighted in a news release Monday, recommends that any cannabis products that might appeal to children — such as those packaged to look like candies, cookies and brownies — should be prohibited.
"Cannabis toxicity in children can cause shallow breathing, severe drowsiness and seizures ... requiring emergency care in paediatric settings," Dr. Christina Grant, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., said in the news release.
WATCH: U.S. kids hospitalized after eating marijuana gummies. Story continues below.
CPS also recommends Health Canada should:
- educate parents on how to safely store cannabis products
- prohibit cannabis products that are combined with alcohol, caffeine or nicotine
- raise awareness of the risks of using weed in adolescence
- increase funding for substance abuse and mental illness in adolescents
- monitor the impacts of cannabis legalization on youth and adjust regulations as necessary
Teen weed use is also a huge health concern
CPS isn't just sounding the alarms about accidental ingestion. Teen marijuana use is also a health concern, they note.
"Early use of cannabis — in the teenage years — is where we see the greatest hazards that can result in long-lasting impacts," Dr. Richard Bélanger, a paediatrician and adolescent health specialist at Université Laval, said in the release.
"Youth are becoming more aware of these risks but there is still much education to be done."
In their full report to Health Canada, CPS notes that cannabis use can cause functional and structural changes to teen brains. Its use is also strongly linked to cannabis dependence, substance use disorders, smoking, depression and psychosis, impaired neurological development, possible cognitive decline, and worse school performance, CPS added.
Reports of kids eating edibles are on the rise
Although marijuana was legalized in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018, edibles are not expected to be legal until later this year. But reports of children accidentally ingesting cannabis edibles have been on the rise.
As just a few examples, last May, a B.C. child ate marijuana-infused gummy bears; in July, a four-year-old Nova Scotia girl consumed 15 pieces of a weed-laced chocolate bar; in December, two Montreal kids, aged two and four, ingested cannabis candies, and two other kids in Oshawa, Ont. were hospitalized after bringing weed cookies to school.
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Last month, two children in Brandon, Man., age five and two, were hospitalized after eating a cannabis chocolate bar.
Every poison centre in Canada has reported increased exposure to cannabis (including kids under age 18), Dr. Margaret Thompson, medical director of Ontario, Manitoba and Nunavut Poison Centres, and president of the Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres, said in a Parachute Canada news release last year.
There was a 50 per cent increase in calls concerning cannabis exposure in children between 2013 and 2017 at the Ontario, Manitoba and Nunavut poison centres, the release noted.
Keep weed locked up and out of reach
To keep weed stored safely away from children, Parachute Canada recommends storing it as you would any other potential toxins: locked up, out of reach, in child-resistant packaging. Adults should also avoid consuming any marijuana products in front of children, as that could increase their temptation to try it themselves.
And keep the number for your local poison control centre by the phone.
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