Healthcare workers in Montreal have expressed concerns over an increase in hospital visits by children with cannabis intoxication since marijuana was legalized in October. The Montreal Children’s Hospital reported that 26 children were brought to the hospital since legalization. Nine of those children were under the age of 7.
The trauma director for the Children’s Hospital Debbie Friedman said that the increase in visits is significant compared to visits that occurred before legalization took place.
“[The number of cases] has gone from one every three to four years to nine within a very short period of time. So this certainly is alarming to us,” Friedman told CTV.
Edibles are not currently legal for sale in Canada but are expected to be later this year. Friedman believes that part of the problem may be that many edibles resemble other treats that kids would be enticed to try. They often have much higher THC levels and can be dangerous for small children to consume.
“Just because cannabis is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption by children and it doesn’t mean it should just be left around where it’s easily accessible to a child who’s curious, who is very attracted to the color of gummy bears or a chocolate bar or a hash brownie,” said Friedman.
Doctors and other healthcare workers have some concerns that parents might be worried about bringing their children to the hospital and admitting that they may have consumed cannabis due to possible repercussions.
“Parent shouldn’t be afraid to bring their child to medical attention. We’re not there to call (Director of Youth Protection) on the cases. It’s like any other ingestion. Accidents can happen,” said Dr. Dominic Chalut, an ER physician and toxicologist at the hospital.
Thankfully, no fatalities have been recorded at the hospital due to children consuming cannabis but the hospital encourages parents to be vigilant when they have cannabis in the home with their children.
“If you’re a parent and you know there is pot in your home, keep it safe, probably locked or in a safe environment. You know we don’t leave pharmaceuticals on the countertop for kids to have access.”
A few things to remember if you do have cannabis in the home with your children:
- Cannabis should be stored in a safe and locked location and out of reach for children
- Put cannabis in child-resistant packaging for extra protection
- Educate your children about what medicine is and why only adults should be handling it
- Do not smoke cannabis around children