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Changing marijuana laws & treats may send more kids to ER

Brownies, gummy candies and other treats spiked with marijuana are often used by medicinal users who prefer not to smoke. (KIRO Radio Photo/Linda Thomas/File)

The tricks that make marijuana palatable for some medicinal uses might also make it tempting for young kids.

Brownies, gummy candies and other treats spiked with marijuana are often used by medicinal users who prefer not to smoke. But a report in the JAMA Pediatrics warns edibles may also lead to more children being hospitalized by the drug.

In the two years after the feds decided not to prosecute legal marijuana users, the Colorado Children's Hospital in Denver said they saw 14 children come through their doors with THC in their system.

Unusual drowsiness and unsteady walking were among the symptoms. One child, a 5-year-old boy, had trouble breathing. Eight children were hospitalized. Two of those children had symptoms serious enough to warrant a trip to the intensive care unit.

Some children came in laughing, glassy-eyed or "acting a little goofy and `off,'" Wang said. Many had eaten medical marijuana food items, although nonmedical marijuana was involved in at least three cases. The children were younger than 12 and included an 8-month-old boy.

In the four years before the rule change, they say they hadn't had a single case.

In a journal editorial, two Seattle poisoning specialists say that at least seven more states are considering legalizing medical marijuana and that laws that expand marijuana use likely will lead to more children sickened.

KIRO Radio's Kim Shepard and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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