KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Marijuana edibles that look like candy are posing a threat to kids across the country, including right here in East Tennessee.
East Tennessee Children's Hospital said Monday that they've treated at least three patients under the age of 5 after ingesting gummies containing CBD or THC in the past three weeks.
“It’s really, really scary. These gummies that have THC, the psychoactive component of what’s in marijuana, can be dangerous for kids. These gummies are attractive to kids because they are used to candy, gummy bears, Sour Patch kids and all these soft, gummy candies,” said Dr. Joe Childs, Chief Medical Officer.
Kids have no idea what they are eating or when to stop.
"So, we have had cases of children that have gotten into these and essentially overdosed. It’s been life-threatening in terms of how it has affected them,” Childs said.
It usually takes a while for the gummies to absorb into the system and to take effect, so kids can eat a lot of them before a parent even realizes something is wrong with them.
"It’s very sedating. So they are going to be sleepy, moving towards unresponsive, and sometimes moving towards not really remembering that they need to breathe, where then it can be life-threatening to them,” Childs said.
One of the local victims almost had to be put on full life support until the drug cleared their system, Childs said.
So what should parents look for?
Childs said that altered behavior or if a child is unusually sleepy or if you can't wake them, that's the time to call 911 to get help on the way.
“If it’s dangerous to the point that they are not or don’t have a pulse, then CPR should be administered immediately. If it’s not that extreme, and hopefully it’s not, then position them in a position of comfort and observe them closely while help is on the way,” he said.
The THC gummies are not legal in Tennessee, but they are legally available in other states and can even be made at home. If you have them in your home, experts say to keep them where children can't access them.
Poison Control Centers nationwide are seeing an increase in calls about CBD gummies and other products, according to East Tennessee Children's Hospital.