Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jul 2016
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 2016 Austin American-Statesman
Note: Letters MUST be 150 words or less
Author: Jan Hoffman, The New York Times


To a child on the prowl for sweets, that brownie, cookie or 
bear-shaped candy left on the kitchen counter is just asking to be 
gobbled up. But in states that have legalized marijuana for 
recreational use, notably Colorado, that child may end up with more 
than a sugar high.

A study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics says that in 
Colorado the rates of marijuana exposure in young children, many of 
them toddlers, have increased 150 percent since 2014, when 
recreational marijuana products, like sweets, went on the market legally.

When children get their hands on the goodies they can become 
lethargic or agitated, vomit and lose balance, triggering a hospital 
visit or a frightened call to a poison center. A handful of patients 
were admitted to intensive care units and intubated.

Rates had started climbing in 2009, when the federal government said 
it would not prosecute users and suppliers who conformed to 
Colorado's medical marijuana laws. Those patients would often ingest 
their prescription marijuana through baked goods.

When voters decided in 2012 to legalize marijuana for recreational 
use, researchers anticipated that rates of accidental exposure in 
children would rise.

"But we were not prepared for the dramatic increase," said the senior 
author of the study, Dr. Genie E. Roosevelt, an associate professor 
of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of 
Medicine and Denver Health Medical Center.

The number of cases in the study, drawn from Colorado's poison 
control data and from one children's hospital, is modest. Between 
2009 and 2015, there were 163 cases documented by the poison control 
center and 81 patients evaluated at one hospital for pediatric 
marijuana exposure.

Even so, Roosevelt said, "While these ingestions are not common, the 
effects are significant and preventable." Some cases, she said, could 
result from secondhand smoke inhalation. The documentation of cause 
is still evolving.
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