LANSING, Mich. — Cases of Michigan kids consuming edible marijuana products are rising.
"Between last August, so August 2019 to August 2020 we had about 130 cases reported to us. From August 2020 onwards till now, it's about already been close to 200 cases," said Varun Vohra, director and clinical toxicologist with the Michigan Poison Center at Wayne State University School of Medicine. "We're not even at August yet so we have no doubt think that the number is going to go up."
Marijuana edibles can easily be mistaken for regular treats like chocolate bars, cookies, brownies or even gummy bears.
According to the Michigan Poison Center, in Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Hillsdale, and Jackson counties there were a total of 13 cases reported for people under the age of 18. Most of these cases occurred in 2020.
Sales of recreational marijuana began here at the end of 2019.
So what's causing this trend? Well, Vohra says there are several factors.
"Increased access I think for sure, decriminalization or legalization, recreation use has been more commonplace clearly in the state. And I think a lot of times with edibles especially they're packaged in a certain way that could be attractive to kids, " Vohra said.
Amanda Fata is a mother of three, the founder and owner of Nuvita, a cannabis company in Lansing, and an advocate for the cannabis plant. She says hearing about the cases going up is concerning to her.
"Cannabis already has a bad rap to it. And we know how therapeutic and medicinal it can be for a variety of things. Just hearing that is a little bit disappointing because it means that the consumers need to be smarter with how they are storing their products," Fata said.
Fata enjoys eating edibles and is open, honest and careful with the products when it comes to her children.
"If you are having a conversation with you know a 6-year-old give her an age-appropriate truth. Just say, 'Hey this is similar to alcohol and you can't have it until you're 21 years old so this is mommy's and I'm going to put it away because this is not for you,'" Fata said.
"My oldest daughter who is 13 years old we have an age-appropriation conversation about it. She knows about my company, she knows that this is legal, she knows that I partake in it from time to time and she knows that I use it for medicinal purposes."
She says the most important thing is to keep it up high and locked up.
"They make really nice lockboxes now...It's a very very small investment for something that's going to protect the integrity of the plant and keep little kids safe," Fata said.
Vohra says cases typically resolve themselves with supportive care but they do see overdoses with young kids.
"It doesn't take a lot for them to hit that threshold or that quote-unquote toxic threshold, and kids shouldn't be exposed to these kinds of products anyways," Vohra said.
Common symptoms for kids under the age of 12 include lethargy, confusion, drowsiness, uncoordinated movements, nausea, and muscle weakness. More severe symptoms area low heart and blood pressure, tremors, hallucinations or even a coma.
The Michigan Poison Center says children can remain symptomatic for two to fifty-five hours after ingesting marijuana edibles.
What should parents do if their kid does get into it? Vohra says do not make your child vomit. He says it can introduce a lot of other risks.
"The first thing would be to wash out the child's mouth with, you know, just normal water, making sure that they are not choking or anything like that, obviously, and I think, you know, calling the poison center would be first and foremost," Vohra said.
The center has specialists on hand to your questions and make sure you know what to do.
"If there is an emergency where a child has trouble breathing or becomes unresponsive or you can clearly tell that the child's not acting like themselves. Call 911 or go to the local emergency department right away," Vohra said.