On October 17, 2018, cannabis became legal for sale across Canada. Although cannabis-infused food products aren’t yet legal, adults will be able to make their own food products using cannabis plant and oil. These may attract children and youth, and can pose a serious poisoning risk. A poison is something that can make you sick if you swallow it, taste it, smell it, get it on your skin or in your eye.
In 2018, the IWK Regional Poison Centre received a dozen calls about children aged 0-12 years old who had unintentionally eaten a cannabis product, or “edible.”
What are “edibles?”
Edibles are home-made food items such as cookies or other baked goods, candies, butter and drinks that are made with either cannabis oil or plant. These food or drinks can easily be mistaken as safe to eat by a young child, and should never be stored near “safe food” (e.g. in the refrigerator).
Why are children at risk for cannabis poisoning?
Young children explore by crawling on the floor and ground, put their fingers in their mouths, and touch and taste things without knowing if they are harmful. Their skills change fast, they learn very quickly to climb to reach things and are interested in what bigger people are doing.
How does cannabis affect children?
Young children are more at risk for poisoning because of their light weight. They can have medical symptoms from eating cannabis, such as (but not limited to): feeling sleepy, coma, trouble breathing, motor impairment, tremors, elevated heart rate, depression and anxiety. In some cases, children need to be treated in intensive care units.
Child Safety Link recommends the following:
CSL Blog: Edible Hazard: Cannabis Food & Your Child’s Safety
Infographic: Cannabis Food (March 2019)
CSL Backgrounder: Cannabis Legalization, Cannabis Edibles & Unintentional Poisonings in Young Children
Change the way you think about poisons: Cannabis Food and Liquid Nicotine – CTV Atlantic Morning Live interview with CSL and IWK Regional Poison Centre, March 2019
What to know about Kids and Cannabis – CTV Atlantic Morning Live interview with CSL and IWK Regional Poison Centre, October 2018