The number of children admitted to the ER for marijuana intoxication increased by 133 percent in France over an 11-year period, according to a new study.
According to the alarming study, increased availability — and potency — of marijuana in France is responsible for the uptick in toddler intoxication.
“I was surprised by the increase of admissions in my unit for cannabis unintentional intoxication among toddlers and by the increase of severe presentation after children had eaten part or a entire cannabis resin stick,” said lead author Dr. Isabelle Claudet, who heads the pediatric emergency department at Hopital des Enfants in Toulouse.
Marijuana sales, consumption and possession remain illegal in France, and yet the nation is the consumer of cannabis in all of Europe. The study also points out that the most popular form of cannabis in the country is hashish, a highly potent concentrated form.
Dr. Claudet suggests that the more potent hashish is getting in the wrong hands. According to the study, THC levels have increased from 4 percent in 2004 to 20 percent in 2014. Claudet offers one simple solution: Regulate the concentration of THC in cannabis products.
The researchers analyzed data from 2004 to 2014 on toddlers (under the age of 6) who were admitted to a pediatric emergency department. During that 11-year span, 235 children were admitted for intoxication. Among the most common symptoms (86 percent) of the children admitted were drowsiness and euphoria.
To put this all in proper perspective, visits to the ER for alcohol intoxication in the U.S. have increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade, according to a 2016 report. From 2010 to 2011, there were 3.8 million ER visits related to alcohol intoxication. That’s up from about 2.4 million visits in the years 2001 to 2002, the study found.