The number of King County residents reporting marijuana edibles exposure to the Washington Poison Center has increased this year, with roughly one-third of the reports involving minors. It’s unclear what, if any, role legal pot played.
The number of King County residents reporting marijuana edibles exposure to the Washington Poison Center has increased this year, with roughly one-third of the reports involving minors.
But it’s unclear what, if any, role legal pot played in the spike.
The number of edible-exposure calls to the poison center from King County totaled 39 through this May; there were 38 such calls in all of last year, according to the center.
Fourteen incidents this year involved minors, including six who were under 6 years old. Last year there were 20 calls, with 11 incidents involving children under 6 years of age.
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The majority of child exposures occur unintentionally when kids find and consume pot-infused chocolate or baked goods in homes, say health officials. “Marijuana edibles left lying around on the coffee table or next to snacks can easily fall into the hands of young kids,” said Dr. Alexander Garrard of the Washington Poison Center.
Pot intoxication in children can lead to anxiety attacks, psychotic-like symptoms and respiratory depression, according to health officials. Most cases, though, do not require hospital admissions, Garrard said, as children are evaluated, treated and released.
The data does not indicate if people reporting exposure were intoxicated, Garrard said. That’s why he uses the term “exposures.”
The reports also don’t indicate if the edibles come from medical-marijuana shops, the illicit market or legal retail stores.
“I’d be very surprised if any instances came from legal retail stores,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, a sponsor of the state’s legal pot law.
State rules prohibit edibles from featuring cartoon characters in their packaging, or other semblances to popular snacks. Rules also require child-resistant packaging and that every type of edible be approved by state regulators. “Kids are our number one priority” in reviewing edibles for approval, said Brian Smith, spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board.
The legal pot system has only captured about 10 percent of the overall marijuana market, according to a state estimate. That small share suggests that most of the edibles consumed in the state are not bought from legal retail stores.
Steven Kessler, owner of a recently opened store on Bainbridge Island, Paper & Leaf, said he’s not selling baked goods, candies or chocolate because of community concerns about children ingesting edibles.
Statewide data on calls to the poison center showed a similar increase in the first quarter of 2015 compared to last year.
But Garrard said it’s not clear if there is an actual increase in marijuana-exposure cases, or if more people feel comfortable calling the poison center because marijuana is now legal.