DENVER (CBS4)– Doctors have a new warning for parents who use marijuana, specifically those who partake in marijuana edibles.
Doctors in the Denver metro area are seeing more children hospitalized for the drug than ever before and worry the situation will only get worse as more edibles become more readily available.
“If you leave it out on the counter there’s no way a child’s going to know the difference,” said Dr. George Wang with Children’s Hospital.
Wang said there has been a disturbing rise in children being sent to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital after eating marijuana.
“The majority of kids we’re seeing are the toddler age group, 1, 2, 3, 4 years old,” said Wang.
He said so far this year nine children have been treated for ingesting pot as opposed to last year’s total of eight. Since recreational pot became legal 18 months ago edibles have become more commonplace, showing up in more places than it had in the past.
Many times those edible products are identical to candy.
“More of it in the household usually equals more accidental, unintentional exposures,” said Wang. “They don’t look different from non-marijuana containing food products. They don’t taste any different.”
Wang said the THC levels in a single edible may be dangerously high especially for children. He has treated children who have ingested pot and had serious breathing problems.
Wednesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill to require marijuana edibles to be clearly identified in and out of the package. Some parents believe the problem goes beyond packaging.
“I immediately blame the parents. You don’t leave cocaine on the table or Vicodin on the table that kids can access,” said parent Jennifer Dow.
Wang said legal marijuana is still a work in progress.
“We’re learning as we go and trying to figure out the best way to go about this,” said Wang.
Other hospitals in the Denver metro area have also seen an increase in child pot emergency room visits. Hickenlooper said the new laws are designed to keep children safe.