ER visits spiked for children sickened by cannabis during pandemic: CDC

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency rooms saw a spike in cannabis-related events in adolescents, according to new data released on Thursday.

Findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the number of adolescents visiting the ER was higher during the pandemic years than in 2019.

Most of the incidents reported by the CDC involved young adults aged 15 to 24 years, suggesting a potential link to self-soothing methods during the pandemic.

The CDC also revealed that the number of visits involving children under the age of 14 increased compared to 2019 data.

In groups aged 11 to 14, the CDC saw a 111% average increase in ER visits from young girls from 2019 to 2022.

Incidence for boys, on the other hand, only increased 24%.

But the most shocking data from the CDC’s recent batch of findings showed an uptick in cannabis-related hospital visits made by children 10 years old or younger, which “far exceeded” pre-pandemic rates.

In 2019, ER visits in that age group averaged at 20.9 per every 10,000.

In 2022, the average was 65.6 — a startling 214% difference.

Weed gummies
Most cannabis-related ER visits occurred in young adults aged 15 to 24, per the CDC.
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Young child in hospital bed
Most surprising was the sharp uptick in ER cases regarding children under the age of 11 who had accidentally ingested cannabis.
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For those 10 and under, ingestion of potentially toxic amounts of cannabis was likely not intentional, but rather accidental due to packaging that looks appealing to them.

“Our middle school girls are struggling and are using more cannabis than males,” Dr. Willough Jenkins, the medical director of emergency and consultation liaison psychiatry at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, told NBC News.

Jenkins, who was not involved in the report, said it “makes sense,” given February survey results from the CDC that demonstrated the mental health struggles of teen girls.

At the time, the agency reported that a majority of teen girls felt hopeless or sad in 2021, and nearly one in three considered attempting suicide.

Doctor performing check up on a child
Cannabis-related ER visits skyrocketed during the pandemic years, the CDC reported Thursday.
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Last year, the World Health Organization reported a startling increase in overall rates of depression and anxiety during COVID-19 lockdowns.

But recent studies suggest that, despite the widespread use of marijuana to de-stress, Mary Jane could have anxiety-inducing properties in teens.

The CDC’s latest findings coincide with reports that cannabis-related Poison Control Center calls regarding adolescents were up 245%, according to a study released last year.

Just last week, the Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration teamed up to demand a crackdown on pot companies whose THC-infused products might be easily confused for a grocery aisle snack.

Edibles disguised as candy
THC-infused edibles are often marketed as parodies of popular candies, which could be easily confused by a young child.
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Edibles disguised as candy
The CDC suggested that the stark increase in ER incidents regarding cannabis use could also be “a result of expanding state-level policies legalizing cannabis use.”
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“Marketing edible THC products that can be easily mistaken by children for regular foods is reckless and illegal,” Samuel Levine, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement at the time.

“Companies must ensure that their products are marketed safely and responsibly, especially when it comes to protecting the well-being of children,” he added.

The CDC hypothesized that the stark increase in ER incidents regarding cannabis use could also be “a result of expanding state-level policies legalizing cannabis use.”

In New York City, the first legal dispensary opened its doors in December, but the legalization of weed has been met with harsh criticism from local doobie downers, who fear fellow drivers will operate under the influence and lament the “zombie-fication” of stoned workers.

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