What Parents Need to Know About Candy-Like THC Edibles

Several cannabis edibles resemble snacks and candy that children are accustomed to consuming, which is why it’s essential to understand what parents need to know about candy-like THC Edibles. Here is what you should know if your child accidentally consumes or overdoses on THC candies.

Several states have allowed medical and recreational marijuana use. And while this may be a welcome sign of the changing times for many people, there is little doubt that marijuana, including THC-infused candies and snacks, is neither acceptable nor safe for children. With the long-awaited legalization of this contentious medication, many unethical dealers are exploiting this momentous occasion for their own gain. Some manufacturers of THC edibles are catering to the national demand for novelty THC products by manufacturing goods that resemble popular brands of candy and snacks, such as Doritos and Skittles. The difficulty? It can lead to an overdose of THC edibles in children.

From 2017 to 2021, poison control centers in the U.S. reported an increase in the number of youngsters who consumed edibles from 207 to over 3000. A recent study published in Pediatrics reveals that edibles are now a household safety threat and should be addressed as any other medication, poison, or hazardous substance a child may attempt to take.

Candies containing THC expose children to the risk of overdose.

Senior vice president of public affairs and communications for the National Confectioners Association, Christopher Gindlesperger, stated in an email to 7 News Boston, “Many cannabis edibles companies are egregiously overreaching with their marketing, putting consumers at risk and infringing on the trademarks of well-known and trusted confectionery brands.”

Children become ill and wind up in hospitals due to these pushy and deceptive marketing strategies. Between 2017 and 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported 4,172 incidences of cannabis exposure in children under nine. About half, or 45.7%, were connected with THC edibles.

Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, issued a consumer advisory in 2021 over the growing problem of children overdosing on THC edibles. In it, she stated that in 2020, “more than 70 percent of contacts to the Poison Control Center regarding marijuana edibles will involve children under the age of five.” James further noted that in states where recreational THC edibles and similar items are legally sold, an adult serving of edible cannabis contains 5 milligrams of THC, whereas a serving of counterfeit Cheetos carries more than 600 milligrams of THC. If a child consumed the full bag, they would consume 120 times the legal limit for an adult in those states.

The National Confectioner’s Association is participating in the national dialogue around these counterfeit brands selling THC-infused edibles. The NCA proposes a set of regulatory rules to avoid the appeal of THC-infused edibles to children and the theft of registered brand designs. Among the numerous requirements proposed by the NCA are a few restrictions that could assist in keeping children safe, including:

  • Limiting the quantity of THC present in edibles.
  • Restricting descriptive language to omit terms commonly associated with sweets, such as “candy,” “gummy,” and “snack.”
  • Requires packaging that is opaque and unattractive to children.
  • Clear warning labels inform consumers that the product contains THC and should be stored away from children.

What Happens if a Kid Consumes a THC-Containing Candy or Edible?

The youngster is capable of being intoxicated, but not in the same manner as an adult. Depending on the age of the child, significant THC doses per kilogram of body weight might cause youngsters to become unresponsive. Many symptoms may arise, such as a change in mental status, difficulty to walk, or a child who is completely comatose or unresponsive.

Due to the normalization of THC edibles as a result of the legalization and commercialization of medicinal and recreational cannabis, an increasing number of children are accidentally ingesting and being exposed to THC.

Monica Shekher-Kapoor, M.D., Attending Physician Pediatric Emergency Medicine Cohen Children’s Hospital Center (Queens, NY), tells Parents, “We are absolutely witnessing a rise in the number of newborns, children, and adolescents presenting with THC poisoning at our emergency department.”

“Children are naturally inquisitive, which can lead to accidental and deliberate consumption. Clinical manifestations of THC intake include, but are not limited to, confusion, drowsiness, vertigo, nausea, vomiting, agitation, paranoia, loss of balance, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. In extreme cases, we have observed patients with convulsions, delirium, and coma,” Dr. Shekher-Kapoor stated.

What Should Parents Do If Their Kid Consumes THC Edibles?

Dr. Nogar explains that “many sweets include large doses of THC, up to 100mg per gummy or chocolate, and that is a common occurrence; 100mgs of THC in chocolates or gummies is more than enough to render an adult incapacitated, let alone a child.” Many children he treats are between the ages of two and four who took THC-infused edibles while exploring. “Hospitalization is common for these children because they are practically unresponsive for 12 to 24 hours.”

When observing the following symptoms in children, parents should seek emergency medical attention:

  • Having trouble walking.
  • Modifications in speech.
  • Neurological alterations.
  • Consciousness lapse

“First and foremost, if a child has access to edibles, any of the above signs and symptoms should alert parents to the possibility that the child has consumed edibles,” says Dr. Shekher-Kapoor. “Parents are encouraged to contact their local poison control center. Most likely, poison control will recommend visiting a nearby emergency room. Poison control is staffed by highly qualified health specialists who can assist parents in comprehending immediate actions.”

Sadly, there are no established guidelines or regulations regarding the design, production, and sale of THC-infused edibles. Due to the absence of regulation, shady cannabis enterprises will certainly continue to produce imitations of children’s favorite branded foods and candies. Thus, more children will become unwell if parents do not implement safety measures in their homes.

Parents can take the following measures to protect their children against THC exposure, poisoning, and overdose:

  • Keeping all cannabis items away from children.
  • Not using substances in the presence of children and ensuring that a sober adult is present to help supervise children when using.
  • Avoid purchasing imitation products that your child is likely to confuse for the genuine article.
  • Lock up all THC products in childproof containers to prevent your child from gaining access.
  • Maintaining a list of emergency phone numbers, including the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), your primary care physician, and 911.

Parenting is a difficult job; for many, cannabis consumption has become as commonplace as alcohol consumption. Yet, this does not mean that cannabis is safe or suitable for children. If you have questions about keeping your family safe while using cannabis products, consult your family physician or visit the Department of Cannabis Control website for helpful information.

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