Why kids could be at risk of accidental cannabis poisoning

by | May 7, 2023 | Uncategorized

Kids are always at risk of something – whether it’s breaking bones in the playground or catching an illness at school. But accidental poisoning from cannabis is not a risk you want to brush aside. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s going on
Health Canada has been warning the public about an increase in unintentional cannabis poisonings in children.

Many illegal cannabis edibles are packaged to mimic popular brands of candy, snack foods and treats. Packaging often displays bright colours that are similar to well-known names and slogans. Kids can’t tell the difference between their candy and these illegal cannabis copycats. When stored in sight and within reach, the familiar look and style of these illegal cannabis edibles can be incredibly attractive to children.

The health risks
The health risks of an accidental cannabis poisoning are nothing to sneeze at. Illegal products can contain very high amounts of THC – the part of cannabis responsible for intoxication – which increases the risk of severe poisoning. The smaller size of children also means THC can have a more significant impact on them compared to adults.

Cannabis poisoning can lead to serious symptoms, including vomiting, confusion, unresponsiveness, slurred speech, unsteadiness on feet, drowsiness/lethargy, slowed breathing, and in rare cases, seizures. Poisonings can also be life-threatening, sometimes resulting in coma, being put on a ventilator or even death.

Here’s what you can do:

Choose legal: If you buy cannabis, choose legal products from authorized retailers. It will have plain, child-resistant packaging featuring a health warning, official cannabis symbol, ingredients list and a small excise stamp over the seal. Legal edible cannabis also contains a limit of 10 mg of THC per package and would never mimic popular branding.

Practice safe storage: Store any cannabis products locked away out of sight and reach of children. Kids are resourceful and they can get into just about anything that catches their eye.

Communicate: Talk to your children about safety. Tell them not to eat candy from unknown sources and teach them to come to you or another trusted adult before eating any treats they are given.

Spot the difference: When buying cannabis online, keep an eye out for these red flags in order to avoid accidentally buying illegal cannabis. Telltale signs include:

  • websites with no age verification;
  • payment requested by e-transfer or in a cryptocurrency;
  • shipping is available anywhere in Canada;
  • uses a generic email address (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail);
  • claims to contain more than 10 mg of THC per package for edible cannabis.

Some illegal edible cannabis products contain very high amounts of THC, sometimes up to 500 mg of THC in one gummy which can be life-threatening if consumed by a child.

Find more information at canada.ca/cannabis

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