Just to put things in perspective, amid all the paranoid rhetoric out there about cannabis, the plant is non-toxic. It cannot, in any way, come close to killing you. It doesn’t affect the centers of the brain that control respiration or heartbeat. That said, if your young child gets exposed to anything you are unsure of, calling Poison Control is the safest bet. While alarmists like to say legalization exposes more children to harm, they might be blind to the real dangers. Being poisoned by crayons, for instance.
Kids and sticking things in their mouths
Yes, they do it. With everything (except for the food we want them to eat, that goes everywhere else). Topping the news recently, a study in JAMA Pediatrics says Colorado saw an increase in emergency room visits and poison control calls for cannabis in children.
The study points out that the number of hospital visits has risen from 7 in 2013 to 16 in 2015. Poison control calls went up from 25 to 47. Of course, prohibitionists loved making the most out of this ammunition. None more so than anti-cannabis crusader Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. He tweeted:
More kids in hospitals in CO after legalization – says JAMA. The science is undeniable here. Legalization hurts.
But with more awareness, more consumers, and more legal access, how is this surprising? But what alarmists fail to do is put it in perspective with other items in the study.
Putting it in perspective
Now if there were only 100 cannabis users, and half of their kids went to the hospital, that would be serious. But there are millions of cannabis users. So what do the numbers mean when you balance the number of users to the number of calls? Federal surveys paint a fairly accurate picture of how many people use what. So let’s look at the number of calls per million consumers, sticking to just the big three.
Poison control calls for kids 5 and under per 1 million adult users, 2014
Source:National Poison Data Center, National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Cannabis users per million tied with alcohol. Mind you, there continue to be far more alcohol users than cannabis, so the total number of children affected was more. But what really shocks is the number of tobacco exposures. Yet, compared to cannabis, does the conservative public cry out for tobacco and alcohol to be made illegal? No.
People remain immune to these numbers, because the substances are legal, and therefore perfectly acceptable, regardless of the dangers.
Poisoned by crayons is far more worrisome
In 2014 alone, the Poison Control hotline fielded almost 2.2 million calls. That averages out to 42.6 poison exposures in children younger than 6 per 1,000. That age group accounted for almost half of all calls. Of all calls, those for children ages 1-2 account for almost three times that of any other age group.
Of all the calls for children, a whopping 1,683 were for crayons in 2014. So what is the real danger here? Being poisoned by crayons? I don’t even want to know the numbers on animal feces.
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