Cannabis poisonings in children
Learn to recognize the signs of cannabis poisoning and what to do about it. Taking action quickly can help prevent serious harm.
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Accidental poisonings in children from edible cannabis are a serious risk. Hospitals have seen an increase in visits to the emergency room and poison centres have seen an increase in calls related to accidental poisonings from cannabis. Many cases involve kids under 12 years old, with most of these cases occurring in kids under the age of 5.
Serious cases of cannabis poisoning can be life-threatening, sometimes resulting in:
- being put on a ventilator
- death, in rare cases
Below are some tips to help to prevent cannabis poisoning in children.
Store cannabis safely
Always keep edible cannabis products, including homemade edibles, away from children by:
- storing them out of reach
- locking them away
- keeping them separate from regular food and drinks
Tips on safe storage of cannabis
Talk to family, friends and caregivers
If your child is spending time in someone else's home, ask them if they use cannabis. If they do, make sure they store it safely.
Anyone can accidentally expose a child to cannabis, including:
Choose legal cannabis
Legal edible cannabis products contain no more than 10 mg of THC, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, per package. They must also be in plain, child-resistant packaging.
Illegal cannabis edibles may contain high levels of THC or other unknown intoxicating cannabinoids that can result in severe cannabis poisoning and may cause serious harm. Illegal cannabis edibles may come in non-child-resistant packaging that mimics popular brands of candies, snacks or other food products that appeal to children.
How to recognize the differences between legal and illegal cannabis
Signs and symptoms
If you think a child in your care is acting unusual or looks ill, act immediately. Check if the child may have consumed anything that contains cannabis. The severity of the symptoms depends on the child's size and how much THC they consumed. Look for these symptoms:
- slurred speech
- unsteadiness on feet
- slowed breathing
- seizures, in rare cases
If a child becomes ill
If you think a child in your care has consumed cannabis, call your poison centre for help. If your child loses consciousness or has difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1. Explain that you suspect the symptoms are or may be from cannabis consumption. A quicker diagnosis can prevent serious harm.
Report side effects
We encourage consumers, patients and health care practitioners to report side effects, including any accidental poisonings, from cannabis.
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