While marijuana might relax parents, it could make their children comatose. This according to a researcher who noted the number of small children, under the age of six, who were admitted to emergency rooms in France, shot up 133% during the decade between 2004 and 2014. In addition to the number of visits skyrocketing, the severity of the children's injuries also increased over time. Aside from trips to the hospital, the number of calls to poison control centers related to marijuana exposure in children increased by 312% in the same period. The results of this study are published in Monday's journal of Pediatrics.
Dr. Isabelle Claudet, a pediatric emergency physician and lead author of the study, says most ER victims are diagnosed with marijuana intoxication and exhibit symptoms such coma, seizures, difficulty breathing and sleepiness. She says most of the victims are accidentally exposed to marijuana, and say the effects can last up to 24 hours.
Claudet says the severity of the symptoms has jumped 20% over the course of the study because today's drug tends to contain a higher concentration of the active ingredient THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, which is a psychoactive chemical. "THC concentration in cannabis products has increased from 9% in 2004 to 20% in 2014," she told CNN, "I believe that's why we're facing more adverse effects in children."
Here in the United States, marijuana-related emergency room visits are also up among small children. Dr. G. Sam Wang, a pediatric toxicologist at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora conducted research that concluded the greatest increases occurred in states that legalized marijuana, such as Colorado.
"With the marijuana industry increasing, there's a lot of new products, a lot of concentrated products, that people vape or ingest, like the edible products, that are high in THC," Wang said, adding, "And so we've been seeing a lot of kids who are more symptomatic and more intoxicated."
The picture is similar among teenagers and young adults. Marijuana-related ER visits quadrupled at one Colorado hospital from the time before and after marijuana was legalized for recreational use in 2014. 146 people between the ages of 13 and 21 visited the emergency room at Children's Hospital Colorado or one its satellite urgent-care centers in 2005, compared to 639 visits in 2015. Aside from ER visits, calls to poison control concerning juvenile marijuana intoxication were up 34% in Colorado and up 19% nationwide.
The report additionally found that 66 percent of the teens and young adults who went to the ER for a marijuana-related reason were also evaluated by a psychiatrist while they were there. This suggests that the individuals had symptoms of a mental health condition, the report said.
Aside from Colorado, recreational marijuana is legal in seven other states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and D.C.