By: Jeff Pegues
Last month, Elizabeth Perry felt helpless as it became clear something was very wrong with her 21-month-old son Oliver. “When I laid him down in his crib, he kind of went rigid and started shaking and crying,” Perry said.
Within an hour, he was in a Maryland hospital and doctors determined he had THC, the chemical in marijuana that gives users a high, in his system. Oliver had managed to open a tin containing edible cannabis gummies that Perry used to help her sleep. To Oliver, it looked like candy.
“My first thought was, I did this to him, this is my fault,” she said.
Oliver, who had eaten 15 gummies, isn’t the only child who has landed in the hospital after consuming edibles. These instances are rising as more states legalize marijuana and edibles become more common in homes with children.
The number of children under 12 who have ingested edibles at home jumped from 132 in 2016 to almost 2,500 last year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Those requiring medical care jumped astronomically, too.
“If you’re going to use these substances just realize that they look very attractive to kids, they’re oftentimes packaged in tins or other packages that look very attractive to kids,” said Dr. Brian Schultz, who was part of the team at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., that treated Oliver.
Oliver has since made a full recovery and is back to his normal self. His mom, however, is not.
“What’s terrifying is I know that if he found the gummies again he would eat them again, which is why it’s so important, I think, to lock these up and have these really out of reach,” she said.