AURORA, Colo., May 28 (UPI) -- There has been a spike in young children treated for accidentally eating marijuana-laced food since the relaxation of Colorado marijuana laws, researchers say.
"We have seen an increase in unintentional ingestion of marijuana by children since the modification of drugs laws in Colorado," lead author Dr. George Wang, clinical instructor in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said in a statement. "We need to educate marijuana users, the community and medical professionals about the potential dangers."
Wang and colleagues compared the number of young children treated at the Children's Hospital Colorado emergency department for ingesting marijuana -- via cookies, candies, brownies and beverages -- before and after the modification of Colorado's drug laws beginning in 2009. The researchers used data from Jan. 1, 2005, through Dec. 31, 2011.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said the number of children treated for exposure to marijuana before Sept. 30, 2009, was zero. The number after Oct. 1, 2009, was 14 with eight directly from consuming marijuana food products.
Children who ingested the drug exhibited symptoms that included respiratory problems, extreme sleepiness, difficulty in walking and lethargy. Many underwent a battery of expensive tests to diagnose their problem because the history of exposure wasn't given, or medical professionals were not familiar with marijuana causing these symptoms, Wang said.
Today's marijuana is much stronger than in the past and these products can contain higher concentrations of the active ingredient THC, Wang said.