California Sees Spike in Accidental Marijuana Ingestion by Children

State and local health officials say they are witnessing a steep rise in emergency calls regarding accidental ingestion of marijuana by children.

California’s poison control centers received 588 calls pertaining to ingestion of marijuana by a person 19 or younger last year. That number has risen from 347 three years ago. And the numbers appear to be rising still. There were 386 calls in this first six months of 2018 alone. Nearly half of the calls involve very young children.

Local hospitals say they’re witnessing a similar trend. A spokesman for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles said there were 11 emergency room visits for marijuana during the first three months of the year, up from four over the same period last year and three during the same period in 2016.

“Parents and families should be aware that as marijuana becomes more and more available in various forms, it should be treated as any other potentially harmful product and be kept safely and securely away from children,” said Stuart E. Heard, executive director of the California Poison Control System.

Marijuana advocates believe the problem will start to self-correct thanks to new packaging and marketing requirements. They also chalk some of the increase up to increased reporting.