What Happens When a Child Accidentally Eats a Cannabis Edible?

Check out this side-by-side of Sour Patch Gummies, the beloved soft candy, and Stoney Patch Dummies, a pot edible. If you’re not looking at the label carefully, it’s really difficult to tell the difference. And if you’re a kid – part of the demographic least likely to study the packaging (and most excited to get a sugar fix) – it’s almost impossible.

As the “copycat cannabis” market surged last year, pediatricians and attorney generals alike warned the public about edibles that resemble and taste like popular candies, cookies and cereal. Despite their best efforts, the products have still managed to land in the hands of children.

Even in Colorado, the The New York Times points out, where legislators succeeded in standardizing child-proof packaging and clear labelling (“THC” must be written out next to the logo), “unintentional marijuana exposures” have seen a steady uptick. Nationally, the issue has exploded. Five years ago, there were just 187 exposures amongst children under the age of 12. Last year, there were 3,100 – and the majority of them amongst children under the age of five.

Edibles are almost always responsible for these exposures (unsurprisingly, children aren’t accidentally lighting up joints). What happens after children ingest cannabis? It varies. More often than not, they just become sleepy. One in five children will experience more serious symptoms, though. They’ll have trouble waking up from sleep, or may even have a seizure.

The issue here, again, is the resemblance of the edibles to candy. Kids know how to blow past a serving size. If they decide to eat multiple edibles, they could be in for some trouble. In one story last year, a two-year-old ate a whopping 15 cannabis gummies. (His mom uses them to help fall asleep.) He survived – to date, no child had died from a marijuana overdose – but he had to be rushed to the emergency room.

To avoid what will be a very harrowing experience for you and your child (at the very least, there’s going to be vomiting involved), make sure to A) buy edible brands with responsible packaging from reputable brands and B) keep them far out of sight.

If a child somehow manages to get his/her hands on your supply, you need to call Poison Control immediately. More likely than not, you’ll just need to watch your kid as they sleep off the high.

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