WEDNESDAY, Jan. 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Legalization of commercial cannabis edibles was associated with a significant increase in the frequency and severity of emergency department visits due to cannabis exposures among children, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in JAMA Network Open.

Daniel T. Myran, M.D., from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada, and colleagues evaluated changes in pediatric emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to cannabis exposures following Canada’s two-phased approach to legalizing recreational cannabis. The analysis included emergency department visits among children (aged 0 to 9 years) in Ontario, Canada, during three time periods: prelegalization (January 2016 to September 2018); after legalization of flower products (period 1: October 2018 to January 2020); and after commercial edibles (period 2: February 2020 to March 2021).

The researchers identified 522 emergency department visits due to cannabis exposures among children (mean age, 3.8 years; 53.8 percent among boys), including 81 visits during prelegalization, 124 visits during period 1, and 317 visits during period 2. There was a significant increase observed in the proportion of cannabis-related emergency visits with hospitalization after the introduction of edibles, including 19 emergency department visits (3.6 percent) with intensive care unit admission. No deaths were recorded.

“Further regulatory measures, such as limiting formulations and appearance of commercial edibles, combined with education for parents and caregivers, may be required to decrease pediatric cannabis exposures,” the authors write.

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