Greater access to edible marijuana leads to increase of children admitted to hospital

Some kids received unnecessary procedures

DENVER - Following the first four months of Colorado's retail marijuana law, hospitals and doctors are already reporting some unintended consequences.

Access to retail marijuana and marijuana products began on Jan. 1, 2014. Since that date, Children's Hospital Colorado reported treating 9 children for ingesting edible marijuana. Six of those nine children became critically ill. By comparison, Children's treated only 8 children for ingesting edible marijuana during all of 2013.

"We know that children are getting a hold of these products accidentally through just the availability of these products in the house," said Dr. Kari Franson, Associate Dean for Professional Education at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Dr. Frason explained that doctors had difficultly diagnosing marijuana exposure if an adult did not initially disclose it.

"Some of them (were) even admitted to the intensive care unit, getting procedures that they didn't necessarily need because nobody admitted the child had unfortunately received, had gotten into some of the medical marijuana that was in the house," said Franson.

She also noted that some children received unnecessary, invasive procedures such as lumbar puncture in order to figure out what was going wrong with the children.

Edible marijuana products are permitted to have up to 10 servings per package. A serving size is considered 10mg THC. The high concentration of THC found in edible marijuana products and the low body mass of the children contributed to serious health complications for some of the children admitted to Children's Hospital Colorado.

The hospital reported that many of the children's symptoms, such as poor respiratory effort or coma, prompted hospital admission.

Tonight at 10P: 7NEWS tests if children can tell the difference between their favorite treats and the marijuana edibles that look just like them.

Rocky Mountain Poison Control Call Center (RMPC) began tracking edible marijuana exposures for the first time this year. They have already received 11 calls regarding edible marijuana exposures in children. The majority of the calls received were for children under the age of 5. Of those 11 calls, 6 children were already in the hospital when Poison Control was called and 2 children were admitted to the ICU.

Calls to the RMPC for alcohol and pharmaceutical products during the same time period are both down from last year. There were 10 less calls for alcohol and 317 fewer calls regarding pharmaceutical products compared to 2013.

During the first four months of 2014, there were 25 calls to RMPC about alcohol and 3,770 about pharmaceutical products.

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