Marijuana Edibles Present Serious Risk to Children

Marijuana Edibles Present Serious Risk to Children

More children are getting their hands on marijuana edibles, and for toddlers the effects can be serious or even life-threatening. Marijuana-related calls to the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information involving children have increased 10-fold since 2018, when medical marijuana legislation was passed in the state.

In 2020, marijuana-related calls involving children jumped to 126 cases, up from just 13 in 2018. Reasons for the increase may be related to increased use of marijuana, people feeling more comfortable reporting adverse effects related to marijuana use or parents not storing marijuana products up and away from children.

Scott Schaeffer, managing director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information reports, "Children are particularly sensitive to marijuana products. They may become unresponsive; blood pressure and heart rate are often affected as well. Children may mistake edible marijuana products (like candy or cookies) for regular food, and small children are at higher risk for overdose based on their weight. Many children who consume marijuana edibles require hospital admission due to the severity of their symptoms; we are aware of two children in the state who became seriously ill this week after eating edibles contained in packaging virtually indistinguishable from products available in a grocery or convenience store. In order to reduce the risk of injury or illness, store all marijuana products up and away from children just like any medication or chemicals.”

It's not just children who can have adverse reactions. Adults sometimes call the poison helpline (1-800-222-1222) because they are inexperienced with marijuana, consume more marijuana edibles than required, or they mistake a marijuana product for regular food. The effects from edibles may take one or two hours to reach peak effect after the product is eaten.

  • Symptoms of using too much marijuana may include:
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Fast heart rate
  • Extreme confusion or anxiety
  • Panic and paranoia
  • Hallucinations and delusions

Pharmacists and registered nurses at the poison center are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 222-1222. Please do not email the poison center or a member of the poison center staff, as poisoning emergencies are not handled through email. The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information is a program of the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy at the OU Health Sciences Center. For more information, visit