MARIJUANA-RELATED CALLS TO POISON CONTROL CENTERS IN COLORADO AND WASHINGTON RISE
More people have been calling poison control centers in Colorado and Washington state since recreational marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older in those states, the Associated Press reports.
Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center received 151 calls for marijuana exposure in 2014, up from 88 calls in 2013 and 61 in 2012. Calls about exposure to marijuana combined with other drugs rose to 70, from 39 the previous year. The Washington Poison Center received 246 calls for marijuana exposure last year, compared with 158 in 2013, the AP noted.
Calls regarding young children accidentally eating marijuana edibles nearly doubled in both states. In 2014, Washington poison centers received 48 calls involving children 12 and under, while Colorado received 45 calls involving children 8 and under.
Public health officials say it is not clear whether the increase in calls is largely due to more people using marijuana, or whether people feel more comfortable reporting problems related to the drug now that it is legal for adults 21 and older. The popularity of potent products such as hash oil may also be a factor in the increased calls.
“There’s a bit of a relaxed attitude that this is safe because it’s a natural plant, or derived from a natural plant,” Dr. Alex Garrard, Clinical Managing Director of the Washington Poison Center. “But this is still a drug. You wouldn’t leave OxyContin lying around on a countertop with kids around, or at least you shouldn’t.”
Dr. Leslie Walker, Chief of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said in some cases young children who have consumed marijuana have to be intubated because they are having trouble breathing.