Tag Archives: Colorado Childrens’ Hospital

Mass Illnesses Due to Marijuana Edibles, Brownies, Candy

Mass Illness from Marijuana Edibles in San Francisco

There’s more potential for overdose from edibles than smoked marijuana, although the teen in Seattle who jumped to his death last December did it after smoking pot for the first time.  Two shocking incidents in California suggest that overdose emergencies will increase if that states vote to legalize marijuana in November.  Here’s a summary of recent cases of toxicity from edibles:

    • 19 people were hospitalized in San Francisco on August 7 from THC, after attending a quinceañera party.  The source is believed be marijuana-infused candies, perhaps gummy bears. Several children were among those poisoned, one as young as six.  A 9-year-old had severe difficulty breathing.
    • A JAMA Pediatrics article explains the dramatic rise in children’s hospitalizations related to marijuana in Colorado since legalization.  In 10 cases, the product was not in a child-resistant container; in 40 scenarios (34%) there was poor child supervision or product storage.  Edible products were responsible for 51 (52% ) of exposures.  The report claimed that child-resistant packaging has not been as effective in reducing kids’ unintended exposure to pot as hoped.
    • The report mentions the death of one child, an 11-month-old baby.  Nine of the children had symptoms so serious that they ended up in the intensive care unit of Colorado Children’s  Hospital.  Two children needed breathing tubes.

      HamzaWarsame
      Hamza Warsame, 16,  jumped 6 stories after smoking pot in Seattle in December. Photo: Seattle Times, from the Warsame Family
    • The state of Washington has a similar problem with edibles, as reported on the King County Health Department’s website.  From 2013 to May 2015, there were 46 cases of children’s intoxications related to marijuana edibles reported in Washington.  However, reporting is voluntary and the state estimates that  number could be much higher.
    •  In May, a father plead guilty to deliberately giving his 4-year-old daughter marijuana-laced cake in Vancouver, Washington.  He was sentenced to two years in prison.

      edible-marijuana-image1-july-15-2015
      Intoxication from marijuana edibles has risen steadily since legalization. Source: King County Department of Health. Top photo: AP
    • In Hingham, MA, there was a 911  related to teen girl who ingested marijuana edibles.  The candies were in a package labelled Conscious Creations, which didn’t disclose ingredients.   Massachusetts has a medical marijuana program, but it is not clear how or to whom they were sold or dispensed.
    • July, 2016: A California man was arrested for giving candy laced with marijuana to a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy; the 6-year-old was hospitalized for marijuana poisoning.
    • July, 2016: Police in Arizona arrested a mother for allegedly giving her 11- and 12-year-old children gummy candy infused with marijuana. Police say the marijuana-infused candy was originally purchased by an Arizona medical marijuana user, but was illegally transferred to the mother in question.  (State medical marijuana programs have poor track records of assuring the “medicine” goes to whom it is intended.)
    • On April 27, a Georgia woman was arrested after a 5- year-old said he ate a marijuana cake for breakfast.  The child was taken to the hospital for treatment following the incident; according to officials, his pulse was measured at over 200 beats per minute.

Edible marijuana poses a “unique problem,” because “no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form” – such as cookies, brownies and candy.    Many household items cause poisonings, but marijuana edibles are different because they’re made to look appealing and they appeal to children.

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Marijuana Treats Look Like Familiar Sweets

pot headsIn the first 5 months of this year,  nine children had been treated at the Colorado Children’s Hospital in Aurora for ingesting marijuana.  Seven of these children were in intensive care.    By August, at least 3 more children had been in emergency treatment for marijuana at the same hospital.

The first stores for recreational marijuana opened in January, 2014.  Marijuana overdoses in children began October, 2009, when medical marijuana suddenly exploded in Colorado.  There were no such incidences recorded between 2005 and 2009, according to Dr. George Wang, head of emergency services at Colorado Children’s Hospital.  He explained the problem in a Colorado Public Radio interview last year.   Colorado’s medical marijuana was approved by voters in 2000, but the expansion of medical marijuana in 2009 caused the new problem.  The pace doubled this year, as a commercialized marijuana industry started selling new products.  “Legalizing creates greater promotion…. and also legitimizes the drug,” according to Bob Doyle, who was featured in a video we shared.firecrackers

In response to two deaths from edible marijuana, the governor signed legislation to regulate marijuana in May.  The laws will go into effect in 2016.  Edible pot will require child-proofing, as is required for pharmaceutical and over-the-the-counter medicine.

Despite labels, many of the children who have been hospitalized were too young to read.    A TV investigation showed that most children can’t tell the difference between the “adult candies” and those that are only for children.  Previously,  we published pictures of commercial pot candies available in Colorado, and in California.  Here’s an additional sampling.

pot drinksEven when parents try to keep it away from them, children go for sweets.  Cartoon-like characters and bright colors will always attract children.   It’s logical that school-age  children could be so attracted to the packaging that they would not bother to read.

Both the manufacturing of marijuana sweets and the packaging make them so appealing.  Edible pot processors make products that closely imitate familiar products, like Cap’N Crunch cereal and Pop Tarts. One company’s Pot-tarts are hard to distinguish from Kellogg’s Pot-tarts.poptarts

The Hershey Co. has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against TinctureBelle, a Colorado marijuana edibles company, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker.

The specific lollipopsproducts which mimic the look of Hershey’s candies are: Ganja Joy, like Almond Joy; Hasheath, which looks like Heath Bars; Hashees which resemble Reese’s peanut cups, and Dabby Patty, made to look like York peppermint patties.  The company’s website says its products “diabetic safe and delicious” and helpful with a variety of issues, including pain, headaches and insomnia.

Hershey says the products are packaged in a way that will confuse consumers, including children. The lawsuit alleges that TinctureBelle “creates a genuine safety risk with regard to consumers” who may inadvertently eat them thinking they are ordinary chocolate candy.   Other pot candies that look like Kit Kats, Milky Ways, Nestle’s Crunch and Butterfingers.  Will other candy companies like Nestles or Mars file a lawsuits, also?

pot candies

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