Fear Of Accidental Poisoning From Cannabis Edibles Rises In Nova Scotia

The recent case of a 4-year-old Nova Scotian girl's accidental consumption of cannabis infused chocolates has some people concerned about edibles in the Atlantic Canadian province.

As Nancy Murphyan emergency doctor with the IWK Health Centre's Poison Control Centre in Halifax—says, the case of the young girl who was admitted to hospital last week was not the first. She says alluring edible products are particularly dangerous for curious children.

"Edibles are a little trickier because of the fact that they typically aren’t packaged in a child-resistant manner, and also they tend to use packaging that’s very attractive and you can see the product inside," Dr. Murphy told CTV News.

She says that if you're concerned that your child has accidentally consumed cannabis products there are a few signs to look out for, and she recommends bringing the child to the ER if they become lethargic or have trouble breathing.

"In a very small child, in a baby, it might just be that they’re excessively sleepy, they're not eating or drinking, they're not able to roll over, sit up, do all their usual things."

Even beyond small children, the lack of regulations around cannabis edibles mean they could pose potential risks to adults that knowingly consume them as well. Chris Henderson, the owner of the Cannabis Vape Shop, says until the products are federally regulated, consumers should be wary of them since their potency is unknown and there's no way of knowing if they've been properly tested for contaminants. 

"Right now, it's up the air as to whether or not these have actually been tested, whether somebody’s assumption or whether they did the math properly, you know, things like that," Henderson said.

"I think being responsible with these products is important when you have young children around. Even children that are becoming adults."

And while other provinces such as New Brunswick have implemented rules around safe storage of cannabis products, Nova Scotia has not and Murphy is stressing that some of the places you may choose to keep your stash are readily accessible by your children.

"Purses, or putting something in the fridge, or the car, or in your desk drawer, all of these places that you think, 'they won't look there'—they do."

So the best practice for cannabis consumers is to keep edibles far out of reach from kids - just like you stash alcohol or cleaning chemicals in safe places. 

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As medical marijuana continues to gain ground across the US, more and more colleges are adding cannabis to their curriculum. In fact, more than half of America's pharmaceutical schools (62 percent) now teach students about medical marijuana according to a new survey conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy. "With more states legalizing medical marijuana, student pharmacists must be prepared to effectively care for their patients who may use medical marijuana alone or in combination with prescription or over-the-counter medications," the study's authors wrote.