While cannabis products remain illegal in the US by federal law, most states have laws that allow people to use cannabis for “medical” or non-medical purposes. This study used the National Poison Data System to examine trends in cannabis ingestion among children <6 years, between 2017 and 2021.
- A total of 7043 pediatric cannabis exposures were recorded in the 5-year time period; rates of exposure increased by almost 1400 percent between 2017 (207 cases) and 2021 (3054 cases).
- Hospital admissions, ICU admissions, and moderate and major health effects all increased during the study period.
- More than 97 percent of exposures occurred in residential settings.
Comments: Few US states regulate the types of cannabis products that can contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), leading to an array of edible products on the market—including candies, baked goods, and soft drinks—that are very attractive to children. Many states also do not limit the amount of THC that can be contained in a single serving, which allows highly concentrated products to enter the marketplace. This combination of highly palatable and highly concentrated products is associated with increasing frequency and severity of pediatric cannabis exposure. Appropriate regulation is needed to protect children.
Sharon Levy, MD
Reference: Tweet MS, Nemanich A, Wahl M. Pediatric edible cannabis exposures and acute toxicity: 2017–2021. Pediatrics. 2023;151(2):e2022057761.