According to a study published online in Pediatric Emergency Care, as marijuana becomes more accessible to consumers, it also becomes more accessible to young children.
The study, published by researchers at the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital, was aimed at examining the relationship between state marijuana legalization and the rates of unintentional marijuana ingestion in children under six-years-old.
Results of that study showed that from January of 2000 to June of 2017, there were 2,968 ingestions of marijuana by children younger than six years old reported to U.S. poison centers.
The majority, 72.4 percent, of exposures were in children younger than three-years-old.
More than half of all of the pediatric patients received some form of hospital-based care, 7.5 percent of those required critical care.
Reported symptoms range widely, from drowsiness and confusion to seizures and coma, and require medical treatments including hydration therapy, sedation, and intubation.
"As more states continue to legalize marijuana in various forms, parents and health care providers should treat it like any other medication; locked up and out of reach of children," said Henry Spiller, MS, D.ABAT, Director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's and lead author of the study. "With edibles and infused products especially, curious children are mistaking them for kid-friendly candy or food, and that poses a very real risk for harm."
According to the report, before 2009 there was no significant change in the annual number or rate of marijuana ingestions in children.
But, from 2009 to 2017 there was an average annual increase of 27 percent per year, rising to 742 ingestions per year.
More than 70 percent of all these cases occurred in states where marijuana is legal.