Eyewitness News investigates marijuana edibles come in many forms from cookies and brownies, to candy and gummies. The problem is these treats are landing Fresno kids in the hospital and investigators say they pose a real danger. Doctors say emergency room visits for marijuana edibles are up and include a wide range of patients from teens to adults and even toddlers.
When the sweet taste of candy or brownies lands you in the back of an ambulance. It’s a scenario hospitals are seeing more often.
“An increased number of emergency room visits both in kids an adults and a lot of edibles were involved,” said Patil Armenian a Toxicology doctor at UCSF Fresno. She says pot edibles can take up to two hours to affect someone.
“What will happen is they might eat some and then nothing happens and then they’ll eat more and then they’ll go overboard,” said Dr. Armenian.
But the impact of pot edibles, which are banned from being sold in Fresno, extends well beyond adults. If a toddler eats a marijuana edible it can be life threatening.
“We do sometimes see then being admitted to the hospital and staying comatose for up to 24 hours sometimes requiring breathing tubes put in to support their breathing,” said Dr. Armenian.
In 2017 investigators say Fresno students were rushed to the hospital after ingesting marijuana baked goods and candy. Fresno Police Narcotics Unit Sergeant Tim Tietjen explains.
“Immediately it became a concern because we saw it was affecting the kids, some couldn’t walk, some were unconscious,” said Tietjen.
Last year in separate incidents McLane High School had at least four students eat marijuana cookies, rice crispy treats, or brownies landing them in the hospital. One of the students was found passed out in the bathroom.
At Fresno High a teacher found a student passed out on the floor who was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Investigators found pot brownies in his backpack.
At Bullard High School a student also needed medical attention after ingesting a marijuana brownie.
Marijuana edibles also sent students from three middle schools to the hospital including an 8th grader at Scandinavian School who was treated in the emergency room after unknowingly eating marijuana candy.
At Gaston Middle School investigators say last Halloween a student unknowingly ingested marijuana.
“It was around halloween time, this last halloween it was packaged with “Happy Halloween” on it. It was a brownie and unknowingly took it and ended up in the hospital, ended up passed out,” said Tietjen.
Both medical experts and narcotics investigators share the concern about unregulated pot edibles getting into the hands of children. Officers are especially concerned about the potentially deadly drugs like Fentanyl that could be laced in the candy without oversight.
“I suspect illegitimate marijuana edibles are definitely not going to be conforming to any sort of rules or regulations when it comes to packaging and it is going to look like candy to kids,” said Dr. Armenian.
“We don’t know what our kids are getting and that’s definitely going to be fatal if it’s an overdose situation,” said Tietjen.
Marijuana edibles are being legally sold in other Valley communities so narcotics experts say it’s important to talk with your kids about the dangers now.
“Sit down and just have a very open conversation. I mean it’s something that we know that kids are experiencing in schools so talk openly about it,” said Tietjen.
Most people who end up at the hospital because of pot edibles just need observation, time to sleep and sober up. The Center for Disease Control has resources to help you plan for your discussions about marijuana edibles.
Here is a link: https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/faqs/edibles.html