By Matt Burks, Benton Police Department media specialist
After the costumes and make up are put on, the kids will be ready to run out the door with thoughts of handfuls of candy, a few scares and lots of laughs, but don’t forget to stop to go over a few safety tips.
We always encourage children to carry a flashlight, glow stick lights or reflective tape so they are easily noticed by passing vehicles. Children should always be accompanied by a trusted adult, preferably with a group of responsible adults, and everyone should stay in well lighted areas. Teenagers unaccompanied by an adult should go together in a group at all times, have a fully charged cell phone, and pre-plan a safe route so parents know where their older kids will be at all times.
We also encourage children not to eat any treats until they bring them home to be examined by a responsible adult. There are candy products on the market that look like they are made with mostly sugar and food coloring, but they have an extra ingredient – THC concentrate. These are candies that have sent numerous children in the U.S. to hospitals for treatment.
According to data from the National Poison Data System, there were 1,969 marijuana exposures among children less that 6-years-old, and the majority (75 percent) of the children were exposed through ingestion. That data was compiled between 2000 and 2013. Since that time period the production of THC candies have rapidly increased, which increases the number of products that end up in local communities, including Benton. According to the Journal Clinical Pediatrics, using the NPDS statistics, reported that, “From 2006 to 2013, children’s exposure to marijuana products rose 147.5 percent across the U.S., and in states with legal medical marijuana, that figure jumped to 610 percent.”
The Associated Press reported in January 2015 that marijuana related calls to poison control centers have spiked in Colorado and Washington since both states legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. In 2014, the Washington Poison Control Center received 246 calls of children exposed to marijuana, in increase from 158 calls the previous year. Dr. Alex Garrard, clinical managing director of the Washington Poison Center said that many of the children hospitalized for marijuana exposure can find themselves subject to blood tests or spinal taps to check for meningitis or other serious conditions.
So, what is the difference between marijuana inhaled and the THC candies? First, many of the THC candies look identical to traditional candies, and there are no federal regulations or safety testing of THC edibles. All marijuana/THC products are also illegal in Arkansas.
“In fact, some manufacturers take commonly available grocery store items and spray them with THC concentrate,” According to non-profit organization Smart Colorado. “One bite-size white truffle can contain 100mg of THC or 10 servings. Edibles have a delayed absorption rate … It can take 2-4 hours to begin to feel the effects and is considered a long-term commitment for users.”
The risks and consequences are even more serious for young children. Because of their small size, they a have a much greater risk of severe and potentially life-threatening effects including loss of coordination, anxiety, nausea, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, seizures, delirium, difficulty breathing, and they can even suffer a coma.
Halloween should be a fun time for children and parents, but unfortunately there could be misguided individuals attempting to trick the children with THC candies. When inspecting candies, only eat candies that are prepackaged by a major, established and trusted candy company (Examples include: Mars Inc., Willy Wonka, Hershey’s, Nestle, General Mills or Haribo). If you are not sure about the candy manufacturer, research the company via internet or call the number printed on the wrapper.
If a child is suspected of ingesting candy that has potentially been tampered with, call 911 or the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences-Arkansas Poison and Drug Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. To report suspicious activity, call the Benton Police Department at 501-778-1171 or 501-315-TIPS. Individuals also may send us anonymous information to CRIMES (274637) with the keyword BNPD in the body of the text or go to www.crimereports.com to leave a tip. A crime tip can also be submitted via the official Benton Police Department app found on ITunes and Google Play.
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