Small children will experience a cannabis high far more than you do. If you suspect your kid has eaten weed, call someone immediately. Difficulty breathing or unconsciousness warrants 9-1-1, but otherwise call Poison Control. “You should call as soon as possible rather than waiting to see if the child becomes symptomatic,” says Debra Kent, clinical supervisor at the B.C. Drug and Poison Information Centre. If they do have any symptoms at all, you’re likely looking at a night of observation in the ER.
Don’t let fear of legal consequences deter you from going to the hospital, even though you have every reason to be worried. “There is a chance the hospital could call Child Services on you,” says cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser. But they could do the same if your kid ate a Tide Pod, depending on a lot of factors: “What if you’ve taken every reasonable step to protect your child and they somehow got into it anyway? What if you’re there for the third time and obviously not doing a great job?”
When cannabis was legalized in Colorado, accidental ingestion by young children spiked 34 percent per year. Young children already have the highest risk of poisoning and are prone to swallowing just about anything—marijuana-laced cookies, chocolates, gummies and candy being especially irresistible.
Before any official Canadian numbers are in, we’ll mostly have unfortunate anecdotes: “5th grader accidentally gave out marijuana-laced gummies to kids at school,” Global News reported in January. “Girl, 4, sent to hospital after eating marijuana chocolate bar,” reported the CBC in July. But detractors have been quick to assert that marijuana poisoning is extremely rare; the Washington Post reported your kid is 136 times more likely to eat diaper cream. Contact lens fluid, birth control pills, toothpaste and caterpillar stings all warrant more calls to Poison Control than pot.
Health Canada is expected to promptly veto any cannabis edible that looks enticing to a kid, but wise parents won’t have these around, anyway. “Keep all products out of site and reach, and label any cookies or brownies so that another adult doesn’t think it’s okay to give them to a child,” says Kent. As always, prevention is the best medicine.
Listen to Today's Parent editor-in-chief Kim Shiffman talk about pot on The Big Story podcast.
The Big Story, October 16
Learn more at The Big Story Podcast.