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Illinois high schoolers hospitalized after eating cannabis candy

Jenn is perhaps best known as the author of the popular parenting blog Breed ‘Em and Weep (2005-2012). She’s written for many magazines, newspapers and websites, including Brain, Child Magazine, Literary Mama, and The Boston Globe. Jenn’...

Bad news (gummy) bears?

Some sweet treats landed more than a dozen students from Naperville North High School in the hospital Tuesday after they reportedly ingested gummy bears laced with marijuana. Investigators have snagged samples for testing, but have yet to confirm the presence of cannabis in the candy.

Dr. Daryl Wilson, director of Emergency Medical Services at Edward Hospital, where the teens were treated, told CBS Chicago that each student claimed to have only eaten one gummy bear.

Wilson had no trouble believing the students’ claims of marijuana in the candy. “Why would you want to have just one — unless you know there’s something else in the gummy bear?” he mused.

The good news is — despite a scary few hours of dizziness, dry mouth and markedly increased heart rates— the Naperville North cannabis crew was quickly released from the hospital.

The bad news? Your kids could be next. With the increasing availability in many states of medical and recreational marijuana products, accidental (and intentional) consumption of edible cannabis seems to be on the rise in children and teens.

In August 2016, pot-laced gummy rings were the culprit behind the hospitalization of 19 guests attending a quinceañera bash in San Francisco. Thirteen of the guests who became ill from the potent party favors were between 6 and 18 years of age. Yikes.

“If these candies are confirmed as edible marijuana, then this event is a strong warning about the dangers of edibles, which can be very potent and hard to control dosage in the best circumstances,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, health officer for San Francisco. “A situation like this, where they were consumed by unsuspecting people, and many children, is greatly concerning.”

Yup, we’ll say so. It’s definitely not hard to find spiked gummy bears or other edibles online these days, depending on what state you’re in. The times, they are a-changin’.

So what are legislators doing to protect our kids? Well, in June 2016, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper signed off on a law banning cannabis-laced gummy candy — but only those shaped like humans, animals or fruit. In other words, marijuana gummy treats shaped like leaves, stars or geometrical shapes are fair game — and selling just fine.

Now, cannabis activists argue that the prevalence of pot-candy poisoning in children is relatively low, and these bans on various THC-infused gummy shapes are just a reactionary measure that will impede the passage of weed-friendly legislation and hinder medical marijuana patients’ ability to obtain edibles.

Still, we happen to think most kids are equal-opportunity gummy lovers and will grab a handful of anything that looks like one of their favorite treats. It bears (ha) repeating that adult cannabis consumers need to be aware of the dangers of these edibles — and keep them safe and secure from curious kids and nosy pets.

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