Pediatric Hospitals See Increase in Cannabis Intoxication From THC Gummies

Cannabis gummies
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Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in Long Island, New York, is reporting an increase in young children with cannabis intoxication in its emergency department.1 Similarly, a retrospective review, published in Pediatrics, of 80 children aged <6 years in a Colorado urban pediatric hospital network confirms an increase in exposure to cannabis edibles.2

Children can mistake the brightly colored delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) gummies for candy. In the last 5 years, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital has seen 36 children in the emergency department for cannabis intoxication. Children who consume high doses of THC cannabis edibles may experience sedation, hypothermia, increased heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and problems breathing. Parents or caregivers may notice their child is lethargic, confused, has red eyes, or has difficulty walking and talking.

“Most of the gummy dosages are built for adults, and children are not small adults, so they’re not able to process the same. And they also weigh much less, so there’s less distribution for the drugs to travel,” Candice Foy, MD, a pediatrician at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, said in a press release.

The retrospective review included data from children aged <6 years who had ingested a cannabis edible with a known THC dose between 2015 and 2022. The Colorado pediatric hospital network included 4 inpatient pediatric hospitals with associated emergency departments and 3 urgent cares. Study findings revealed an increase in exposure to cannabis edibles among children, which can lead to clinically significant toxicity. The authors noted that the dose ingested can be used to predict the clinical course.

Cannabis edible ingestions >1.7 mg/kg were determined to be at risk for more severe and prolonged toxicity among children. According to the study, a single 10 mg serving of THC would be unlikely to lead to toxicity in children; however, packages may contain up to 10 servings.

The authors of the Colorado study recommend additional safety measures for cannabis edibles and expanded consumer education, along with minimizing the attractiveness of the edibles to children.

In New York, legislation has been passed requiring opaque, childproof packaging for cannabis edibles. However, experts recommend storing them in a locked cabinet and not consuming them when children are present.


  1. Garone S. Stony Brook Children’s Hospital sees an uptick in kids poisoned with cannabis edibles. WHRU Public Radio. August 29, 2023.
  2. Pepin L, Simon M, Banjeri S, Leonard J, Hoyte CO, et al. Toxic Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Dose in Pediatric Cannabis Edible Ingestions. Am Acad Ped. Published online August 28, 2023. doi: 10.1542/peds.2023-061374