The number of toddlers who accidentally ate marijuana-laced treats rose sharply over five years as pot became legal in more places in the U.S., said a study published Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. More than 7,000 confirmed cases of kids younger than six eating marijuana edibles were reported to poison control centers between 2017 and 2021, climbing from about 200 to more than 3,000 per year. Nearly a quarter of the children wound up hospitalized, some seriously ill, according to a new analysis in the journal Pediatrics. Those are just the reported cases, said Dr. Marit Tweet, a medical toxicologist with the Southern Illinois School of Medicine, who led the study.
Cases of kids eating pot products such as candies, chocolate and cookies have coincided with more states allowing medical and recreational cannabis use. Currently ,37 U.S. states permit use of marijuana for medical purposes and 21 states allow adult recreational use. Tweet called for greater vigilance by parents and for more laws like those adopted by several states to make pot products — often packaged to look like kids’ candies and snacks — less appealing and accessible to children. “When it’s in a candy form or cookies, people don’t think of it in the same way as household chemicals or other things a child could get into,” she said. “But people should really be thinking of it as a medication.”