A new law in Minnesota allows the sale and purchase of food and beverages that contain THC – the ingredient in cannabis that gives someone a ‘high’ feeling. Under the law that took effect July 1, products can only be sold to adults age 21 and older and must contain no more than five milligrams of THC per serving and 50 milligrams per package.
Pediatrician raises concerns over legalized THC edibles, drinks
Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics, discussed legalized THC edibles, drinks and more on WCCO.
Overdose effects of THC edibles
If a child finds and manages to open a package of THC gummies or other edibles, it’s likely they will not stop after eating one. However, even if a child did only ingest one five milligram edible, they can experience effects, including:
- Trouble breathing.
- Anxiety, panic and paranoia.
- Difficulty walking, poor coordination and slurred speech.
- Rapid heart rate.
In severe cases of overdose, children can experience hallucinations, an abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure.
THC exposure: young children vs. teens
Young children are the most susceptible to THC poisoning. According to a 2021 study, young children, especially those under 10 years old, were more likely to be admitted to the hospital and need respiratory support for THC exposure than older children.
If a child eats a THC edible, parents should immediately call the free Poison Control hotline at 1-800-222-1222, regardless if symptoms are present. This is because edible THC products can take 30 to 60 minutes to have an effect, with the peak effect happening 3 to 4 hours later. Poison Control will help parents determine if they need to bring their child to the hospital.
For teens, regular THC use can impair memory and concentration and therefore impact learning. It’s also linked to psychological problems and a higher chance of substance abuse when they grow up.
How to keep THC edibles away from kids
The easiest way to keep kids THC edibles away from kids is to not keep them in the home. If edibles are in the home, parents should consider the following:
- Store safely. If THC edibles are in the home, store them like medications or other dangerous products. Keep them out of reach of kids, or in locked cabinets. They should be in child-resistant packaging or containers.
- Avoid buying edibles packaged to look like real candy. Be sure to store them in a spot kids cannot reach.
- Use edibles with caution. Never consume THC products in front of children, either for medical or recreational purposes. Seeing the products could be tempting to kids.
- Talk to family members, friends, and caregivers. Ask anyone whose home your children spends time in if they use THC edibles. If they do, make sure they store them safely. Be sure that they don’t use them in front of your children.
Talking to kids about THC
Now that THC edibles are legal in Minnesota and more states have legalized recreational marijuana, children are less likely to view them as harmful to their health and development. However, that perception does not line up with the real-life risks. Parents should talk to their children about the potential harm of THC and stress the particular risks of edible products. Treat these talks the same way you’d talk about other substances, like alcohol, tobacco and e-cigarettes, that are legal for adults but potentially harmful to kids.