DHHS warns public about accidental pot ingestion

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services reminds Mainers of the importance of taking the necessary steps to ensure marijuana stays out of reach of children to avoid the risk of accidental ingestion.

Accidental marijuana ingestion often occurs when marijuana has been combined with food to become an “edible” form of the drug. Edibles can be a presented in a variety of different ways, including in the forms of candy, brownies, and other baked goods or sweets, which may entice children to eat them without knowing they contain the drug.

Accidental ingestion of marijuana or marijuana products can cause serious health consequences, and young children are at an exceptionally higher risk because of their size and weight. In 2017, there were 16 calls for accidental marijuana ingestion by a child 0-5 years old made to the Northern New England Poison Center, an increase from only two in 2016.

Adults and pets are also at risk of accidental marijuana ingestion by unintentionally consuming food that contains marijuana. Edibles often have high amounts of THC, but the effects may not be felt until four hours after consumption. This delay of marijuana’s psychoactive effect in edibles has commonly led people to accidentally use more marijuana than intended.

Signs and symptoms of marijuana ingestion can include lethargy, dizziness, lack of coordination, and difficulty breathing.

Marijuana should be stored in a locked area and out of sight and reach of children and pets. Parents should change their storage habits with their children’s ages; what works to protect a toddler from accidental ingestion may not work to protect a teenager.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has introduced a campaign called Good to Know Maine, aimed at providing the public with information related to marijuana. The campaign outlines tips on safe storage, as well as educational information on Maine’s marijuana laws, youth-use prevention, and marijuana’s potential health consequences.


If residents suspect they, a child or any loved one may have accidentally ingested marijuana, call the poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222). If the reaction seems dangerous, call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately.

In addition, anyone who believes a pet may have ingested marijuana should call a veterinarian. Signs that an animal has ingested marijuana include loss of balance, vomiting, loss of interest or low body temperature.

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