After Canada legalized recreational cannabis, and according to a study published in JAMA Network Open, Ontario had nine times as many emergency department visits per month for cannabis intoxication in young children under the age of 10 after Canada legalized recreational cannabis.
Exam for three periods
The research team examined all ER visits in Ontario for three periods– pre-legalization, after flower-based cannabis products and oils were legalized in October 2018, and after commercial cannabis edibles (e.g. chocolates) and other products were legalized and made available for sale at the end of January 2020.
During the entire study period (January 2016 to March 2021), there were 522 ER visits for cannabis poisoning in children under 10 years of age. The average age of these children was three years and nine months.
Although there were no deaths, 171 (32.7%) visits required hospitalization and 19 visits (3.6%) required admission to the intensive care unit (ICU). ER visits for cannabis poisoning increased further after commercial edibles were legalized, and more of these visits required hospitalization compared to the other two periods (39% compared to 25%).
The researchers noted that the legalization of cannabis in Canada overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that while ER visits for pediatric poisonings of any kind decreased in Ontario during the pandemic, visits for cannabis poisoning increased during this time.