Marijuana is now legal for either recreational or medical use in 29 states and the District of Columbia, but the product is spreading everywhere as thousands of children and teens are getting sick across the country.
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In Indiana this summer, 11 teenagers were hospitalized after eating marijuana gummy bears. Just weeks before that incident, a 10-year-old boy in New York got sick from eating a sour gummy candy he found in his father's vehicle. The product contained cannabis oil and the boy's father was arrested for child endangerment. Now, police are issuing urgent warnings to parents.
"This is extremely dangerous," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital, told TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen last year. "When young children get a hold of these products, they can have severe reactions, including nausea, vomiting, disorientation, anxiety-like reactions and even psychotic reactions that can make them do things they wouldn't normally do."
The Rossen Reports team legally purchased edibles in Denver, then challenged kids and parents alike to tell the difference between them and regular candy. The results were revealing.
"You have little kids that accidentally get into this stuff; they don't know any better," said Sgt. Jim Gerhardt of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association. "Or a baby sitter might give a child something out of the pantry, not realizing what it is. Those accidental issues are on the rise, and it's a big problem."
Police warn that kids could end up bringing edibles to school and sharing them with their friends, unaware of what they really are. So even if they aren't in your home, your children could accidentally ingest them.
"Kids are going to be enticed by this," Gerhardt said. "They're going to want to get into this stuff. Banning it's the only way to deal with it."
Call Poison Control to talk to an expert: 1-800-222-1222.