Health Buzz: Pot Sends More Kids to ER in Colorado

By David Oliver | Associate Editor, Social Media July 25, 2016, at 3:17 p.m. | US News

Legalizing pot is having unintended effects in Colorado – namely, sending it into children’s hands. And it’s mostly happening after kids consume marijuana-laced goodies, like brownies, cookies and candy.

The JAMA Pediatrics study study released today found that pediatric marijuana exposure rates rose 150 percent since 2014, when the state legalized the substance.

Recreational marijuana use in Colorado has also been linked to an uptick in the number ofchildren’s hospital visits and rate of cases at a regional poison center, according to the study.

The findings suggest a need for better preventive measures, the study authors say.

Researchers examined admissions data from 2009 to 2015 at a children’s hospital and regional poison center. They found thatmarijuana-related hospital visits rose from 1.2 per 100,000 people two years before legalization to 2.3 per 100,000 two years after, and yearly regional poison center cases of marijuana exposure in children went from nine in 2009 to 47 last year. Most incidences of exposure were related to edible products – often because they weren’t stored correctly, parents weren’t keeping a proper eye on their kids or a lack of child-resistant containers, according to a press release. Such exposures led to a range of symptoms, including vomiting, seizures, low blood pressure and tachycardia, or rapid heart rate. There was an average 34 percent uptick in regional poison center cases each year, as opposed to 19 percent elsewhere in the U.S.

“We were not prepared for the dramatic increase,” senior study author Dr. Genie E. Roosevelt, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Denver Health Medical Center, told The New York Times. “While these ingestions are not common, the effects are significant and preventable.”

More than half the states in the U.S. permit medical marijuana; as of last year, recreational marijuana is only legal in four states. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, possible health effects of marijuana include decreased reaction time, balance and coordination issues and panic attacks.