Two years after Canada legalized cannabis, most parents who use it still don’t publicly admit it, even though it’s safer than alcohol.
But the issue of cannabis’s safety became a bit hazy (pun intended) last fall, when the federal government also legalized candy, chocolate and cookies infused with THC, the psychoactive component of pot. Experts worried that these products, called “edibles,” might end up in the hands of children. “Edible cannabis is a concern because it’s manufactured to taste good and can look like treats,” says non-profit organization Parachute, which recently launched #HighandLocked, a campaign aimed at parents who keep edibles in the home. A relatively innocuous substance in adults, cannabis is more dangerous to kids because of their small body size and lower weight, and since edibles taste so sweet, a child might consume them in great quantities.
The Canadian Paediatric Society is keeping its eye on this issue through its Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program, which has gathered data from an average of 2,800 paediatricians monthly for the past 23 years. It found 36 “serious and life-threatening events” related to non-medical cannabis exposure in Canadian kids in 2019; a third of those cases were kids 12 and younger who had accidentally eaten edibles, and more than half were hospitalized.
Keeping kids away from edibles isn’t rocket science. Simply store them completely out of their reach, in a locked container, ideally still in their original childproof packaging. If your child accidentally consumes cannabis of any type, call your local poison centre for advice.