By Angela Musallam

UC DAVIS MEDICAL CENTER (CBS13) — More children are ending up in the emergency room for accidentally ingesting pot.

Doctors at the UC Davis emergency department say they’ve seen a spike over the last two years and are concerned the problem will only get worse, now that recreational marijuana is legal.

“We’ve seen these exposures for years, but now they’ve really jumped up, and because of that, all of us are on guard, and we have all raised our suspicions‬,” said Dr. Daniel Colby.

Colby is a medical toxicologist at the UC Davis Medical Center who has treated dozens of children in the ER for accidentally eating marijuana. He says often times diagnosing the patients can be confusing.

“They might just be very sleepy, but they can be confused, upset, vomiting, often times they have a wobbly gate, sometimes they can be sick to the point where we have to help them breathe‬,” Colby added.

Although some young patients can experience severe symptoms, Colby says ingesting pot isn’t deadly. ‬

“Sometimes we do fluids, we do supportive care, and some people need a few hours of observation‬,” said Colby.

Last November the California Poison Center saw 30 cases where children had ingested marijuana. The trend continued through January, bringing the number of ill patients to almost 100.

“We train everyone to make sure that everything is leaving in a child-proof bag, so even products like this are going to go repackaged into a child-safe bag as well,” said Shayna Shonauer.

She works at River City Phoenix, a marijuana dispensary in Sacramento, and says by law, every cannabis product must be child-proofed. Ultimately, she says it’s a parent’s responsibility to make sure the products are locked away.

Now, Colby and his colleagues are asking families the big question as they begin to see more of these cases. A concern so great, the ER is bringing back a marijuana urine test specifically for these pediatric patients.

‪”We’d like to have a tool to make a faster, better diagnosis‬,” said Colby.

‪Dr. Colby says he’s seen cases where children from across the state have been flown to the UC Davis Medical Center. He says emergency department staff are on high-alert.


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