Concern over children consuming marijuana edibles

Officials say that 68% of poison center calls made in 2022 involved children 5 years old and younger

Study finds major increase in reports of children younger than 6 consuming marijuana edibles

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – According to UVA Health, calls to the Blue Ridge Poison Center for children unintentionally consuming edible marijuana products have nearly tripled from 26 in 2021 to 77 in 2022.

Officials say that 68% of those calls made in 2022 involved children 5 years old and younger, with most of them requiring hospitalization.

Calls among the 5 and under age group more than tripled from 2021, UVA Health said.

UVA Health medical toxicologist Chris Holstege, MD, said that most of those cases are toddlers who eat the edibles thinking they’re actually candy.

“As an adult, I cannot tell the difference between some of the edible cannabis products now emerging on the market because the products closely mimic available candies such as caramels and gum drops,” Holstege said.

Over the years, calls of this nature have greatly increased, according to UVA Health officials. They say there was only one call made in 2018, four in 2019, and 11 in 2020.

You can see call reports for children mistakenly consuming marijuana edibles to the Blue Ridge Poison Center over the years below, as provided by UVA Health.

YearAges 0-5Ages 6-12Ages 13-19Total Calls

And like other reports, officials say the calls they receive are likely just a fraction of the cases that are actually occurring, as the poison center isn’t called every time something like that happens.

Ten of the pediatric cases that have happened in Virginia involved patients needing advanced care at UVA Health, officials said.

We’re told the symptoms of children who mistakenly eat marijuana edibles can experience rapid heart rates, low blood pressure, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, profound sedation, and seizures.

“I worry that based on the current yearly trend increases associated with the rapid emergence of stores that sell edible cannabis products, we will continue to encounter increasing numbers of adverse events in Virginia with children who require hospitalizations,” Holstege said.

If you need to reach the Blue Ridge Poison Center, you can call 1-800-222-1222 or 1-800-451-1428 around the clock.

About the Author:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.