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Trick or Treaters Beware: ‘Some Potential Poisons Looking Like Candy Can be Marijuana Edibles’

New Jersey

By: Richard L. Smith 

NJ Poison Control Center Cases: 

1. Two-year-old child accidentally ate some of dad’s marijuana edibles without anyone noticing. The dad only realized something was wrong when the child became extremely tired and unsteady while walking. The child was admitted to an emergency room for observation and did well after spending 24-hours in the hospital.

2. A babysitter contacted the NJ Poison Control Center after realizing that marijuana edibles from her purse had gone missing. The toddler developed seizures on the way to the emergency room and was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for treatment and observation.

Poison center experts and other health and safety officials understand that it is highly unlikely someone would intentionally give out marijuana edibles to children on Halloween. What’s more likely to happen, especially with Halloween candy and edibles around homes, is a child accidentally finds and eats an edible, thinking it is candy meant for trick-or-treating. Keeping edibles locked up, out of sight and reach of children and pets will prevent accidental exposure to edibles. 

Although Halloween is a time filled with exciting and fun activities, it’s a busy time for everyone, including the state’s poison control center.

With people preoccupied preparing for school parades, parties, and trunk/trick-or-treating, paying attention to what’s happening around them can be challenging. It’s important to remember potential poisons hide in plain sight in our everyday environments.

NJ Poison Control center said any product or substance – legal or illegal - can be poisonous if used in the wrong way, in the wrong amount (dose), or by the wrong person.

“Halloween-related mishaps and accidents involving potential poisons go beyond the fear of contaminated candy,” says Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

“Our medical professionals get calls throughout the night about many things — from glow sticks to face paint; allergic reactions to food poisoning; belly aches to marijuana edibles; and chemical burns to alcohol poisoning.”

The state’s poison control center is on alert each October because of the increased risk of mistaking potentially dangerous products for Halloween candy at home.

These products can fool anyone, not just kids and pets. Prescription and over-the-counter (non-prescription) medicines are not the only products easily confused with candy.

Edible marijuana products can be confusing as they look like candy and other sweets that do not contain THC (the active substance in marijuana that makes a person feel “high”).

According to The NJ Poison Control Center, if you have marijuana edibles at home, keep them locked up to prevent children and pets from accidentally ingesting them.

For the fourth year in a row, the NJ Poison Control Center has seen an increase in calls concerning kids accidentally exposed to edibles at home.

If planning a party, make sure children and pets don’t get into alcoholic beverages. The amount of alcohol in beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails/punches affects children and pets differently than adults.

Even swallowing a small amount of alcohol can cause serious health effects and death.

It’s easy to overindulge without realizing you’ve consumed too much alcohol. A person who appears to be very drunk or has passed out may show early signs of alcohol poisoning and be in danger.

Immediate medical help is essential. “Sleeping it off” is never a safe option. It’s important to know the critical signs of alcohol poisoning.

Pets are not only at risk of alcohol poisoning, but they’re also at risk of poisoning from candies, chocolates, and other Halloween-related items. Chocolate, cocoa, candy, and anything sugarless can be poisonous to pets.

The NJ Poison Control Center said Artificial sweeteners like xylitol can cause severe illness if pets eat products containing this ingredient. Keep dangerous products up high and out of sight and reach of pets. If any of these items are swallowed, get help fast.

When a mishap occurs involving a potentially dangerous product or substance, many people call 9-1-1 or spend hours in the emergency room when they could have gotten the help they needed over the phone from their local poison control center.

Calling the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 is always the fastest way to get the medical help or information you need to prevent further injury.

Safety tips for a fun and safe Halloween celebration – safety video

  • Avoid homemade treats when trick-or-treating.
  • Teach kids that medicine is not candy. Lock up medicines to prevent accidental poisoning.
  • Use non-toxic makeup to paint faces and body parts. Test on a small area of skin to be sure it will not cause an allergic reaction.
  • Dry ice can cause severe burns and frostbite if it touches the skin or is swallowed. Use gloves to protect your skin.
  • Look out for potentially dangerous products that look like candy.

If you think someone came in contact with something dangerous, contact your local poison control center immediately. Medical specialists are available to provide information, answer questions, and provide emergency support 24 hours a day.

Anyone can call for medical help – children, teens, and adults. Poison control centers are medical resources for the public and healthcare providers.

Call the NJ Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222