LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is stepping up efforts to warn parents and adults about the dangers children face from accidental exposure to marijuana products sold at dispensaries across Nevada, especially since many look like enticing candy to young children.
“We’ve seen children admitted to the hospital who need intensive care monitoring, and in some cases, even life support interventions to help keep them alive,” said Dr. Jacob Snow at Sunrise Children’s Hospital. “We have seen cases where it’s typical curious exploring. A two-, three- or four-year-old who happens upon something that their parents left out.”
According to Lt. David Valente, with LVMPD’s Special Victims Section, “The responsibility is twofold. It's on the dispensary selling it, the packaging, but ultimately it comes on the parents who take it into their home.”
RELATED| Trick or Treat? A Halloween edible reality check
Compliance for packaging guidelines is statewide. Riana Durrett, Executive Director of the Nevada Dispensary Association said, “Every marijuana product that leaves a dispensary in the State of Nevada needs to leave in an opaque child-resistant package.” Durrett says the packages are extremely difficult for children to open, and optional packaging is also sold at most dispensaries that are even more difficult to open.
Lt. Valenta says a good way for parents to look at it is to equate the safe storage of marijuana products with firearms storage. “Just like you wouldn't leave a firearm anywhere accessible where a kid being curious would want to play with it,” said Valenta. “Same thing with edible marijuana. Again, it often looks like a candy. A curious kid is going to try that. It is the parent's responsibility to prevent those kinds of curiosities.”
Another danger posed to children involves dosage. “Some of the products are sold with the intention they'll be used as a multiple-dose product,” said Dr. Snow, “and, a child would perhaps find a cookie or brownie that contains 100 milligrams of THC.” But, because it’s a single cookie, a young child wouldn’t hesitate to eat it in its entirety, posing a serious health threat. “100 milligrams in a child would be a tremendously effective dose and cause a pretty severe impact.” Dr. Snow adds, “In severe cases, children will end up with respiratory failure. They stop breathing and require critical care support, being in ventilation or other critical care interventions to keep them alive.”
RELATED| Renewed warning to pregnant women: Don't drink
Lt. Valenta says Child Protective Services and police are seeing about one case each week in Clark County where a child needs to be hospitalized because of exposure to marijuana edibles or accidental contact with other types of drugs.
If your child is accidentally exposed to THC, Lt. Valenta urges parents to put the potential consequences aside and instead think of your child’s life first and get them to an emergency room immediately.