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Pot Poisoning

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DENVER, Colo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. With the increase in availability, there has also been a rise in accidental cannabis poisonings by children. Every state is going to face this issue sooner or later.

Cookies, candy, and lollipops—they look good, but they are not your typical treats.  They are medical marijuana.

Robin Hackett is doing everything she can to keep kids away from these sweets. Keeping them locked in a child-resistant container is the law in Colorado.

"It has a locking mechanism that is difficult for a small child under six years old," Robin Hackett, co-owner of Botana Care in Northglenn, Colorado, told Ivanhoe.

Child resistant packaging is required by the federal government for most pharmaceuticals and poisonous products, and it's also required for cannabis.

"It would be our advice that all jurisdictions that sell these candies and other edible products be sold with child resistant packaging," Michael J. Kosnett, MD, MPH, Associate Professor Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, told Ivanhoe.

Accidental pot poisonings spiked following an increase in the widespread sale of medical marijuana in Colorado in 2009.

"The majority of those kids actually did get into what we call marijuana edible products— brownies, cookies, candy, and lollipops—and our concern about those was the potentially high amounts of THC, the active ingredient of marijuana," George Wang, MD, Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Colorado, told Ivanhoe.

In kids, THC affects the brains control of emotions, thinking, and coordination. Kids are more at risk of using other drugs, having risky sexual behavior, and there's an increased risk of suicide and psychosis.

Hackett takes cannabis security as seriously as caring for her cannabis plants.  The plants will be for smoking, but it's the edibles in her shop that would be likely to attract kids. That's why Hackett goes beyond what the law requires.

"We use a special type of packaging for a child from the ages of say six to twelve, thirteen years old," Hackett said.

She uses a locking gun box for teenagers.

"As a parent you know your child.  You know what type of security that you would need and the motivation of your child," Hackett explained.

The best advice is to play it safe, even with medical marijuana, and lock it up.

While several states have legalized medical marijuana, it is still illegal at the federal level.  And now, for the first time in Colorado and Washington states, the use of recreational marijuana is legal.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

BACKGROUND:  Many teens experiment with marijuana. Friends, the portrayal of marijuana in the media, and peer pressure often affect a teenager's decision to use.  Buying and using marijuana is illegal, but teen marijuana use is at its highest in 30 years, and teens are now more likely to use marijuana than tobacco.  In 2011, a national study showed that one in eight 8th graders, one in four 10th graders, and one in three 12th graders have used marijuana in the past year.  However, teenagers aren't the only ones consuming marijuana.  From early 2005 to late 2009, Children's Hospital Colorado had exactly zero emergency-room visits by kids who had ingested marijuana.  In the following two years, when medical marijuana became legal, it had 14.  Studies of ER charts by Colorado doctors show that looser pot laws lead to childhood poisonings, often from mistakenly eating edibles like brownies, cookies, and lollipops.  (Source: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_22912949/colorado-pot-accidents-spur-call-childproof-packaging andhttp://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Marijuana_and_Teens_106.aspx)

PREVENTION:  Safety packaging, as in other medicines, "is a supplement to careful parenting that has been shown to work," Dr. Michael Kosnett was quoted as saying.  Many marijuana industry members agree.  They favor sending goods out the door under tamper-proof seal.  However, they say they would rather not break each individual joint or candy into a high-tech, lockable bag whose cost –up to $7, even in bulk—might come close to the price of the edible itself. They'll have to buy so much tamper-proof packaging that people will just make it themselves at home. The challenge is with a pound of butter and some cannabis, anybody can make edibles," Robin Hackett, co-owner of Botana Care, was quoted as saying. Hackett and other members of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group say lockboxes and larger locking bags that buyers can use to transport larger purchases home should solve most of the safety problems.  Researchers say individual safety packs would be best, but Hackett's current recommendation is better than nothing. (Source: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_22912949/colorado-pot-accidents-spur-call-childproof-packaging)

EFFECTS IN CHILDREN:  Prescribed doses of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana products used to control nausea from chemotherapy, is between four and 12 milligrams for children ages two to four, based on body surface area. Some "edibles" have 300 milligrams of THC, according to Dr. Kosnett. The cases of pot poisoning in children at Children's Hospital Colorado included levels of consciousness and breathing trouble.  Children can also vomit from ingesting too much of a strong substance and aspirate the vomit.  The median age in the 14 patients was three years, and the range was eight months to 12 years, according to an abstract of the research published in the journal Clinical Toxicology.  Accidental pot poisoning in children is also dangerous because ER doctors aren't looking for it as a cause of any symptoms they see.  It can lead to invasive, expensive tests, like a spinal tap or CT scan, if parents are embarrassed or scared to mention the true cause.  (Source:http://www.denverpost.com/ci_22912949/colorado-pot-accidents-spur-call-childproof-packaging)

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

David Kelly
News Media Specialist
University of Colorado School of Medicine
(303) 315-6374
david.kelly@ucdenver.edu

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