Marijuana leading cause of ER visits for children, copycat products raise concern

Concerns grow as Commonwealth moves to regulate, sell marijuana in popular brand look-alikes

Copycat brands of popular food items, like Doritos, can potentially contain THC, the psychoactive component found in marijuana.

RICHMOND, Va. – Copycat brands of popular food items, like Doritos, can potentially contain THC, the psychoactive component found in marijuana.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Jason Miyares announced that starting July 1, copycat THC products will be illegal in Virginia.

“This is not by accident. This is not somebody messing up a label. This is direct action directly marketing products directly to our children,” said Miyares.

This comes as a new study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that marijuana is the leading cause of drug-related emergency room visits for kids under 18 years old.

“So we’re seeing, already starting to see an uptick in those in the last couple of years as states around us in the District of Columbia have legalized,” said Carilion Clinic Dr. Paul Stromberg.

Stromberg said symptoms range from nausea and vomiting to anxiety, paranoia, and more.

“They were not able to walk, balanced,” said Stromberg. “All the way up to being so somnolent or sleepy and they had to have a breathing tube placed.”

As the Commonwealth prepares to regulate and sell marijuana, Stromberg said the number of ER visits will likely rise.

“While people say that, you know, a marijuana overdose isn’t fatal, that may be true, but there are certainly other things that can happen while you’re under the influence that can cause serious harm,” said Stromberg.

“Marijuana is a psychoactive substance,” Stromberg added. “Just like tobacco, don’t smoke around your children. If it’s edible, keep it out of the way or up and away and locked away from kids so that they can’t get those things and get themselves in trouble.”

“You’re gonna want to treat any kind of medication like a firearm: keep it locked away so that kids don’t have access to it,” said Stromberg

Nancy Hans, the Executive Director of the Prevention Council, said guardians need to educate themselves.

“We do know that when the perception of harm with youth—around any substance—goes down, then use goes up,” said Hans.

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