NEW YORK — More children are accidentally eating cannabis-laced candies and brownies — a trend that’s left city child welfare workers schooling parents about how best to keep their ganja goodies away from their kids, the Daily News has learned.
The city Administration for Children’s Services, or ACS, is kicking off a public service campaign reminding parents to secure their cannabis gummy bears, lollipops and brownies in childproof containers and keep them out of their children’s reach.
Last year, 127 panicked parents called the city’s Poison Control Center reporting that their children had eaten pot-laced edibles, 21 times more than the six calls made just two years earlier, according to city Department of Health records.
Out of last year’s cases, 84, or 66%, involved children under 5 years old, health officials said. So far this year, the Poison Control Center, which also responds to calls from parts of Westchester and Long Island, have already received 104 reports of children eating marijuana edibles.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation legalizing cannabis products for adults over 21 in March, but children are increasingly sampling cannabis-laced products, said ACS Commissioner David Hansell.
“We’ve been called into investigate cases with kids as young as 9 months old,” Hansell said. “Now that it’s legal, more and more people are going to be using edibles, and we want to make sure they have the information to use it safely.”
ACS’ edible storage campaign comes as the agency creates a new Office of Child Safety and Injury Prevention that Hansell hopes will prevent future child neglect cases by giving parents important tips on how to keep their children safe.
“Our core mission at ACS is keeping children safe and the best way to do that is by supporting parents and families,” Hansell said. “When it comes to preventing accidents, we want to give them the information they need to keep their kids safe from potential hazards, especially the hazards in the home.”
Current public safety campaigns run by the new office include the importance of window guards in the home, the “Look Before you Lock” program to prevent parents from accidentally leaving children in hot cars and the “Safe Sleep” program, where parents are asked to remember the ABC’s of infant nap time: babies should be sleeping Alone, on their Backs and in a safety-approved Crib. Each year 40 to 50 infants die from preventable sleep related injuries, ACS officials said.
The new Office of Child Safety and Injury Prevention will help child welfare workers keep tabs on troubling parenting trends.
“We want to be well positioned so we can respond quickly and aggressively as issues come up,” Hansell said. “The new office will enable us to identify these issues and get lifesaving information to families quickly.”
Depending on how much they eat, children who ingest marijuana products can suffer racing heartbeats, elevated blood pressure, vomiting and nausea. In extreme cases, children may suddenly have difficulty breathing or fall unconscious.
In most of last year’s cases, children were taken to area hospitals and released after a few hours, health officials said.
The city’s Health Department is also spreading the word on how parents should store their pot products.
“We urge everyone — but especially parents and guardians — to keep cannabis products safely stored out of reach of children,” a Health Department spokesman said.