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Shocking study Six young children treated in Dublin hospital after consuming edible cannabis

Researchers said it was the first series of paediatric cannabis poisoning reported in Ireland


Suspected cannabis jellies (STOCK)

Suspected cannabis jellies (STOCK)

Suspected cannabis jellies (STOCK)

A shocking new study has revealed how six young children were treated in one Dublin hospital after being accidentally poisoned by edible cannabis over an eight-week period earlier this year.

The study documents how five of those admitted to the emergency department of Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin with acute encephalopathy also tested positive for THC – the main active ingredient in cannabis - were under the age of six.

A new study that is published in latest edition of the Irish Medical Journal states that there has been an increase in cases of children under the age of 10 suffering from acute encephalopathy – a disease which affects the brain – as well as respiratory depression or hypotension linked to accidental use of cannabis products.

Researchers said those cases occurred over an eight-week period dating from 17 March, which was the first series of paediatric cannabis poisoning reported in Ireland.

Of the six cases, four were admitted to a ward with one child requiring treatment in the hospital’s intensive care unit while two children were discharged after 12 hours from the emergency department.

All six cases were reported to the Child and Family Agency Tusla.

One case involved two siblings aged three and four who had consumed cannabis jellies known as Chuckles Peach Rings which were in a schoolbag in a communal space.

The older child was transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit requiring oxygen to assist with their breathing and was eventually discharged after three-and-a-half days in hospital.

The other sibling was treated in a hospital ward where three incidents of their lips turning blue were recorded.

Another 10-year-old was hospitalised after consuming his 26-year-old sibling’s cannabis sweets which left him dizzy and ataxic – a condition leaving someone with abnormal, uncoordinated movements.

It noted the amount ingested from edible cannabis products can be 10 to 50 times the average dose of 5-20mg of THC inhaled by an adult smoking or vaping.

“The delayed effect from oral ingestion compared to rapid effects from smoking or vaping is what poses the greatest risk to children and naive users who consume several edibles initially then overdose,” the study observed.

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Doctors said edible cannabis products could act as either a stimulant, hallucinogenic or sedative on young children.

The study said the six cases pointed to an emerging problem that has also been present in other jurisdictions where cannabis use had been decriminalised or under-enforced.

It pointed out that edible cannabis products are attractively presented and not in childproof packaging.

“These products have uncontrolled concentrations of THC as they are largely made illegally and often supplied through the internet,” it added.

“This is a serious evolving paediatric public health threat with child protection issues,” the study concluded.

In June we revealed how cannabis jellies are now so prevalent in some secondary schools that principals have written to parents to warn them about the emergence of the drugs, sold in the form of sweets.

A taskforce has now been established to detect and stop the import and sale of cannabis edibles, a senior garda confirmed.

Representatives from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), An Garda Síochána, the HSE, Revenue, and Customs have been assigned to the new taskforce to examine this emerging drug trend.

The taskforce held its first meeting less that a fortnight ago.

Just last month, two young boys aged three and four were treated in Temple Street Hospital after eating cannabis jellies.

This incident followed an increasing number of children and teens presenting at hospitals after eating sweets laced with cannabis.

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