All treats, no tricks: Preventing accidental cannabis poisoning in children

There’s no sugar coating it—since the legalization of non-medical cannabis, there has been an increase in emergency department visits across Canada related to children unintentionally ingesting cannabis edibles. In fact, cannabis is now a leading cause of poisoning for children. In response, the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has launched a campaign to highlight the risks of cannabis edibles and the serious health problems they can cause in children.

Can you tell which candy contains cannabis? Neither can a child. 

two gummy bears side by side with the caption, "Can you tell which one contains cannabis? Neither can a child. Store edibles safely" From the CCSA

Edibles can appeal to children because they can look like regular candy, chocolate, cookies, and baked treats. It’s important to keep edibles stored safely away from children because, even in small amounts, consuming cannabis can cause breathing difficulty, seizures, impaired coordination and balance, and coma. Since edibles look like regular treats, children may also consume large amounts at one time. If your child does consume a cannabis edible, call Ontario Poison Centre (1-800-268-9017) or seek medical help right away. Call 911 if the child has difficulty breathing or loses consciousness.

Don’t be tricked by Halloween treats

Young, happy child in a halloween pumpkin costume holding a bucket of candy.

With Halloween approaching, take time to check your child’s candy before they eat it. Make sure candy wrappers are sealed and read the labels so you know what’s in it. Illegal cannabis edibles can come packaged in brightly coloured wrappers that closely resembles popular candies and chocolates. When in doubt, toss it out!

Most cannabis edible poisonings happen at home

A pair of scissors beside a piece of chocolate with a THC label. Caption reads, "You keep these away from kids. Why treat edibles differently?". From CCSA

We do everything to protect our kids – why treat cannabis edibles differently? 

Treat edibles like any other dangerous household item and always keep them out of reach of children. Store them in child-resistant containers away from regular food and drinks. Buy legal cannabis products, which have some safeguards like plain packaging in place to deter children. Avoid consuming edibles in front of children – they may think it is a regular treat and will want to do the same. And don’t forget about pets. Our furry friends can also be seriously harmed by consuming cannabis.  

Visit our website for more information on cannabis and you and your family’s health, as well as cannabis resources and supports.