April 01, 2013

Colorado pot accidents spur call for childproof packaging

From early 2005 to late 2009, Children's Hospital Colorado had exactly zero emergency-room visits by kids who had ingested marijuana. In the following two years, when medical marijuana became legal in Colorado and federal officials backed off prosecution, it had 14.

Pioneering studies of ER charts by Colorado doctors show looser pot laws leading to childhood poisonings, often from mistakenly eating tantalizing "edibles" like gummy worms or brownies.

Those doctors are now helping lead the charge for mandatory safety packaginga s Colorado gears up for even broader legal sales of pot with recreational-marijuana stores.
"We've seen a dramatic increase in pediatric exposure," said Dr. George Wang, a Children's ER doctor who also works with Denver Health's Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.
Calls about potential marijuana exposure at all ages have doubled since 2009 at the poison center.
Safety packaging, as in other medicines, "is a supplement to careful parenting that has been shown to work," said Wang's colleague, Dr. Michael Kosnett. "There are solutions available right now."

And the marijuana industry agrees, up to a point.
Many industry members favor sending goods out the store door under tamper-proof seal. But they would rather not break each individual joint or candy into a high-tech, lockable bag whose cost — up to $7, even in bulk — might approach the price of the brownie inside.
"They'll have to buy so much tamper-proof packaging that people will just make it themselves at home," said Robin Hackett, co-owner of Botana Care, a medical-marijuana store in Northglenn. "The challenge is with a pound of butter and some cannabis, anybody can make edibles."
Hackett and other members of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group say lockboxes and larger locking bags that buyers can use to transport larger purchases home should solve most of the safety problems.

Breaking everything down into smaller tamper-proof bags is a landfill problem and unnecessary expense, Hackett said. Botana Care counsels patients with children about safety, and keeps track of who has kids as a reminder.
"Unfortunately, we can't write laws around 'dumb,' " she said.
None of the accidentally poisoned children has died, Wang and Kosnett said.
There are serious medical consequences for small children, though, even while marijuana advocates say an adult "overdose" of pot is nearly impossible.

Prescribed dosages of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana products used to control nausea from chemotherapy, is between 4 and 12 milligrams for children ages 2 to 4, based on body surface area. Some "edibles" have 300 milligrams of THC, Kosnett said.
The researchers say individual safety packs would be best, but the current recommendation of all items leaving the store in one secure package is "better than nothing."

Because there is no clear reporting category for marijuana poisonings, doctors have to cull through files to count cases. Presbyterian/St. Luke's, which operates Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, said it does not track similar cases.
The cases studied at Children's included decreased levels of consciousness and breathing trouble. Children can also vomit from ingesting too much of a strong substance and aspirate the vomit.
The median age in the 14 patients was 3 years, and the range was 8 months to 12 years, according to an abstract of the research published in the journal Clinical Toxicology.
Child-ingested pot is also dangerous because ER doctors aren't looking for it as a cause of any symptoms they see, Wang said. That can lead to invasive and expensive diagnostic efforts, such as a spinal tap or CT scan, if parents are embarrassed or scared to mention the true cause.

"When children get admitted to the ICU, that's serious," Kosnett said. Symptoms may appear similar to meningitis, for example.
Safety packaging and parental prevention should be noncontroversial, said Dr. Robert Brockmann, president of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, especially as newly legal recreational use will greatly expand the supply.
"None of that information is being disseminated when it's dispensed," Brockmann said. "It's like liquor or prescription medications, or anything else you don't want your kids to get into."
Kosnett likens the social moment to that of the 1970 U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act, which launched many of the safety containers now ubiquitous in medical and chemical markets. One standard for packages, Kosnett said, is that no more than 20 percent of 5-year-olds be able to open a container within 10 minutes.
Such measures have cut pediatric poisonings in various categories by 40 to 90 percent over the decades, he said.


  1. None of the accidentally poisoned children has died, Wang and Kosnett said.
    1. not poison, it's as non-toxic as crayons maybe even more so.
    2. It CAN'T kill you, see #1.
    3. It's the safest drug to have around children, alcohol can kill, aspirin can cause ryse syndrom and kill, most other otc nsaids can shut down liver and or kidneys in young children, thus killing them, those drugs are toxic. Cannabinoids act on and regulate various bodily functions but not the critical/automatic ones like breathing or heart beating, and again is non-toxic, the liver is barely affected by it.
    4. Where is the outrage with vaccines or ritilin or SSRIs? Just to name a few.

  2. Anon,

    1. There is no such thing as "not poison". ANY item can be poisonous. That is why old pharmacology textbooks used to say, "the dose, not the device".

    2. Of course it can kill you. The body can only tolerate so much. Give a one month old child a pint of pure THC. What do you think will happen?

    3. There is no such thing as ryse syndrom. If you are talking about Reye's syndrome, there has been no link proved between Reye's syndrome and aspirin. Even kids who have never taken aspirin have developed it.

    4. I'm saving my outrage for those who make sweeping medical statements with no actual knowledge of same.

    1. I think "safety packaging" should be mandatory for your idiocy. "Give a one month old child a pint of pure THC. What do you think will happen?" .... duh, really??? I'm having symptoms of nausea from reading what you wrote! You're concerned about "sweeping medical statements" while you bleat about ridiculous hypotheticals.

      And you write, "Even kids who have never taken aspirin have developed it." .... duh, do you think??? FYI, even kids who haven't been exposed to pesticides can develop cancer. Does that tell us that there's no link between pesticides and cancer?

      Now come back and point out my typos, 'cause that's all you're doing.

      Mental midgets should not be allowed to use the word "knowledge" after the word "actual".

  3. There's no such thing as a marijuana poisoning. Americans are the most cowardly and disgusting culture ever to curse this planet. It's a harmless flower, get over it you miserable idiots.

  4. @Anonymous

    I'll save my outrage for imbeciles pretending there has ever been a single death from THC overdose.

    I suppose a kg of thc might kill a child, but fortunately a child couldn't consume it themselves, if somehow such a thing ended up in their possession. Salt, on the other hand... people have actually died from the acute effects of too much salt... better lock that into a $20 case as well, huh?

    Please go back to trolling elsewhere.

  5. There probably used to be incidents, but now that it's legal, people aren't as worried that they'll go to jail for taking the child to the emergency room. This means that more children are getting emergency care if they need it.

  6. In order to be "poisoned" by marijuana, you must smoke about 1,500 lbs in an hour. These kids would have been fine had they just been allowed to go to sleep and let it wear off.

  7. Oh my, children are consuming this poinsonous DANGEROUS DRUG and suffering from symptoms. Oh my! We certainly must do something to save our children from being POISONED by legal marijuana. I feared that this would happen. In all these thousands of years of no deaths I'm just terribly afraid that someone is about to die. I'm going to go hide under my bed. I know it doesn't help, but I feel safer there.