What Happens When Children in Colorado Find Their Grandparents' Pot Brownies

"Special" sugary treats for "Pop-Pop only." And you expect the kids not to steal them?

The hypothesis is kind of intuitive: Kids like sugary things. And since medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2009, inventive entrepreneurs have been lacing sugary things with pot. Kids can't resist sugary things, especially if they are Grandpa's forbidden "special treats." They'll steal them, eat them, start feeling all funny inside, and maybe end up at the hospital.

When the influx of pot-laced brownies, candy, soft drinks (yup, Canna Cola exists), and other THC confections into Colorado's medical-marijuana market, researchers wanted to know whether children have been admitted to the hospital for pot consumption in greater rates since legalization.

The results, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, lined up nicely with the hypothesis. Studying the patient records of one children's hospital in the state, the incidence of marijuana consumption in children younger than 12 hopped up from zero cases (between 2005 and 2009) to 14 cases (between 2009 and 2011). The number is small, but the authors find it to be statistically significant.

Of the 14 kids, the most common symptom was lethargy. One experienced "fussiness." Eight had consumed a marijuana cookie, cake, or candy.

Here's a summary of the authors' conclusions.

Grandma and Grandpa should be more careful with their pot.

"Similar to many accidental medicinal pediatric exposures, the source of the marijuana in most cases was the grandparents," the authors write. Of the 14 cases, four kids got the drugs from their grandparents. Two got it from their parents. One got it from the babysitter (fired much?).

Kids try pot because it tastes so good.

"Historically, significant effects following unintentional pediatric marijuana ingestions were very rare, probably due to the poor palatability of the marijuana plant," they write. But now the drug is most palatable. "Besides the plant and cigarette form, medical marijuana is sold in many products, including edibles such as candies, baked goods, and soft drinks, which presumably increases attractiveness to young children."

States with medical-marijuana laws may want to consider child-proofing measures.

Many of these products contain higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol than typically found in marijuana buds, resulting in symptomatic exposures despite small ingestion. Currently, there are no regulations on storing medical-marijuana products in child-resistant containers, including labels with warnings or precautions, or providing counseling on safe-storage practices.