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THC-Laced Edibles Disguised as Major-Brand Candies Are Making Children Sick

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In a disturbing trend, South Shore Health’s Emergency Department is continuing to see patients who’ve become sick after ingesting THC-laced edibles. The now familiar source? Drugs that are packaged to look like major-brand candies and snacks.

A local teenager was treated recently after consuming five (600 mg each) fruit-flavored, THC candies. After seeking medical attention through the ED, the patient was stabilized and eventually released to family members.

Over the past few months, South Shore Health ’ s pediatric emergency department noted an uptick in incidences involving children who have become ill after ingesting products such as candies, chocolates, sours and “ gummies” containing THC. One case involved gummies which were packaged to look nearly identical to a leading brand of children ’ s vitamins.

“ Children often can ’ t tell the difference between a food product laced with THC and one without. Edibles laced with THC, and intended for adult consumption and dosages, have a greater clinical impact on children based on their smaller size due to the child ’ s larger “ volume of distribution.” said Mark Waltzman, MD, Chair of Pediatrics, South Shore Hospital.

“ Even a small amount of THC in a youngster can have a profound effect, leading to lethargy, hallucinations, inability to arouse a child.”

In older children who may weigh more, excessive doses of THC can cause a racing heart, drop in blood pressure and the risk of seizures.

The Massachusetts Poison Control Center (PCC), cites an emerging trend in recent data concerning pediatric ingestions of marijuana edibles. In the first three quarters of 2020, the PCC says 66% of exposure calls (or 171 out of 257 calls) were related to pediatric exposure to marijuana products. During the same period, 80% of calls related to marijuana edibles (or 123 out of 153 calls) were for pediatric exposure.

Among the types of edibles reported to the PCC as being responsible for poisonous episodes in the last three-and-a-half years, marijuana candy had risen by June, 2020 to be the most common. In comparison, marijuana baked goods were associated with the most cases in the year 2017.

Waltzman reminds families to be vigilant when it comes to candy that their children might possess or that is lying around the house and is easily accessible. What may appear to be candy, may be a cannabis product.

“ Be sure to check the fine print and look for indications of THC,” Waltzman says.

South Shore Health’s pediatric emergency department has seen an uptick in incidences involving children who have become seriously ill after ingesting products THC edibles. Learn how to keep your kids safe.