HealthDay News — An increase in pediatric cannabis exposure was identified following legalization of medical marijuana in Massachusetts in 2012, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Jennifer M. Whitehill, PhD, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and colleagues compared pediatric cannabis exposure cases before and after lmedical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts. Exposure cases included those of 218 children and teenagers as reported to the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention (RPC) from 2009 to 2016.

The RPC received 218 calls involving cannabis exposure (98 single substance, 120 polysubstance) in children and teenagers during the 8-year study period. Boys and girls accounted for 60.6% and 39.4% of the total exposure cases, respectively. A 140% increase was seen in the incidence of single-substance cannabis calls, from 0.4 to 1.1 per 100,000 population before and after legalization (incidence rate ratio, 2.4). The highest frequency of RPC-reported cannabis exposures was for those aged 15 to 19 years (81.7% of calls). For all age groups, an increase in the proportion of all RPC calls due to single-substance cannabis exposure was documented, from 29 to 69 before and after legalization of medical marijuana. For most age groups, exposure to edible products increased after legalization.

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“The increase occurred despite the cannabis product packaging being designed to be difficult for young children to open, being unappealing to the youth, and requiring warning labels instructing that the product be kept away from children,” the authors write.

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