OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Young children and marijuana are two things that don’t mix. But in Oklahoma and across the country, that mix appears to be a problem with calls to poison centers sky rocketing.
One state lawmaker and chair of the public health committee, Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay, has called an interim study to find out why the issue is happening and what they can do to prevent it.
“Kids are getting into marijuana edibles and accidentally ingesting them and then subsequently going into the emergency room or calling poison control and having to have all of these therapies done on them, like having an I.V. or even the worst-case scenario being put on a ventilator,” said epidemiologist for the state department of mental health and substance abuse services Lauren Kidwell.
The Committee for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Controlled Substances took a deeper dive into the issue Monday. Experts like Kidwell said some kids have even experienced seizures due to ingesting them.
“We know it’s super preventable,” the executive director for the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth Annette Jacoby said.
There were 269 exposures to marijuana reported to the Oklahoma poison center in 2022 for children under age 5. That’s compared to just 13 in 2018. That’s a 2,000 percent increase in calls related to that exposure. The national rate is also up almost 1,500 percent.
“Parents don’t get consistent or good reminders or education about how to keep this product away from their children,” Jacoby said. “So, lock boxes, just keeping things out of a child’s reach as well as child resistant packaging.”
“This starts with parental responsibility,” said Jed Green with Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action. “Just like it does a liquor cabinet, just like it does any other prescription drugs.”
Green said he and others in the industry want to achieve the same goal. However, he also believes looking outside the box is key in this situation.
“The number one way to actually decrease pediatric exposure is to get in and deal with hemp derived cannabinoids,” Green said. “This or synthetics that are coming out of the industrial hemp program.”
There were 196 exposures reported in the first nine months of this year, meaning the state is on track to exceed past numbers.