Children’s ER visits prompt warning about marijuana exposure, cccess

DENVER, Colo. - 2018 could be the year medical marijuana appears on the Missouri ballot. And that might make some parents nervous.

A Denver physician reminds parents about the dangers of children having access to the drug.

The number of ER marijuana-related visits among small children has increased since recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado. Dr. Sam Wang, a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician with Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, studied the numbers since 2014 when recreational marijuana dispensaries opened in the state.

“We saw a lot of children getting into edible products. On average, it’s one to three years of age,” he said. “We have had the extreme symptoms where kids have actually needed a breathing tube.”

Although the numbers aren’t anywhere near epidemic readings, it is enough that there is a warning that comes from the state. A promotional campaign targets all segments of the population about the negative health effects of marijuana.

Jessica Neuwirth works with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. The CDPHE launched a “Good To Know” campaign in 2015 to educate the public about the negative effects of marijuana.

If enough signatures are collected, Missouri voters might vote on medical marijuana in 2018. If medical marijuana were to become legal in Missouri, Neuwirth said she would offer the same advice to parents as she does in Colorado, where the “Good to Know” campaign is focused on recreational marijuana.

“Having conversations with young children as well as youth, this is not something for you. Like prescription medication, medical marijuana is recommended for patients. And for patient use only,” she said.

Retailers in Colorado are required by the state to take preventative measures.

“A small twist bag can prevent your kids from getting into things they really shouldn’t have at that age,” Mason Young of Rocky Mountain High Dispensary said.

Recreational usage isn’t the same as what could appear on the ballot in Missouri. But Dr. Wang says the same warning aptoes for parents and health providers - that any controlled substance can be harmful when exposed to children.

“We want to make sure caregivers and parents do a good job of putting them up and out of reach, storing them properly, thinking about things like child-resistant packaging, and packaging regulations in your state. Then a lot of public education to make sure we keep them out of the hands of children,” he said.