State Notes Increase in Accidental Pediatric Poisonings Related to Cannabis Products

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

State officials are seeing an increase in pediatric exposure to cannabis products, and there is an effort afoot to respond with a public information campaign.

“We really feel as if like much more information needs to be out there,” Patricia Henley of the Department of Public Health said Monday morning.

Henley told fellow members of a Cannabis Advisory Board Public Health Subcommittee that officials received 210 calls in 2020 about “accidental pediatric poisonings” involving cannabis edibles or flower. “Essentially what our Injury Prevention Program has been seeing is an increase in pediatric exposure to cannabis products,” she said.

She added, the state Office of The Child Advocate noted an increase in reporting of suspected abuse and neglect “because of pediatric cannabis exposure.”

Henley said the Department of Public Health is developing a campaign to revise and update its educational materials, with a focus on responsible use, safe storage and exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke.

During a brief discussion, board members said Boston Children’s Hospital raised concerns about an increase in calls to the poison control line and suggested partnering with other organizations on messaging to parents, including the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians.

Henley said that while the state has been spending money to develop a campaign, additional money may be needed to reach people with messaging.

Lawmakers are currently assembling a state budget for fiscal 2023, which begins on July 1. One board member said the Cannabis Control Commission had requested $1 million in public education funding, which could include a focus on “youth prevention.”

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