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Cleveland doctor explains the dangers of children eating THC edibles

There's been a significant rise in recent years of children eating marijuana edibles, thinking they are candy. Doctors say too much can be dangerous.

CLEVELAND — We're hearing more and more of kids eating marijuana gummies, chocolates, and other edibles that resemble candy. 

"We have definitely seen younger children with, frankly, they look intoxicated or they can get excessively sleepy," UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital pediatric emergency specialist Dr. Jerri Rose said.

But when kids under age 6 eat them, it can be dangerous.

Elizabeth Perry's doctor prescribed gummy edibles for her to help her sleep. She was told to eat one a night, but her toddler Oliver found them and ate 15. 

"He started shaking and crying and looked at me with utter fear in his eyes," she remembered. "We weren't sure he would be OK."

Oliver started seizing and had to be taken by helicopter to the hospital, where he was intubated. He survived, but Elizabeth wants other parents to be aware. 

There's a lot of THC packed in gummies, and when ingested by a small child, they can be getting a five or six-fold overdose, according to Rose. Side effects can include tiredness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, or worse. 

"In some cases, if the child ingests enough, it can be enough to make them so sleepy that it could depress their breathing," Rose said. 

A recent study published by Pediatrics found more than 3,000 reports from across the country of kids under 6 eating edibles in 2021, 14 times higher than 2017. Calls to poison hotlines have also dramatically increased regarding the same issue, and 90% of cases happen in the child's own home. 

"If people have them, they need to treat it like any other medication," Rose explained, meaning the medications should be locked up or out of reach of children. 

In Ohio, marijuana products resembling candies or snacks are illegal to sell in the state, but that's not stopping people from crossing the border and getting them elsewhere.

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