WINNIPEG - Legal cannabis infused treats like cookies, gummies and chocolate are on the way.
A Brandon mom, who doesn’t want to be identified, has a cautionary tale when it comes to these pot edibles and her two-year-old daughter.
“Her pupils weren't responding to light which were giving the signs that she could have been brain dead,” the mom said.
In February, her five-year-old son got into a cupboard above the stove and found what he thought was a regular chocolate bar – It was actually a cannabis edible. He shared it with his two-year-old sister
“I didn't hear him, he's really light it's like he walks on air,” said the mom.
When she discovered what happened the mom says she didn't fully understand the gravity of the situation until hours later when the two-year-old started having seizures. The toddler ended up at Health Science Centre Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg on a breathing tube.
“It is terrifying, because like as soon as we saw her she just started screaming and tensing up,” the mom said.
Thankfully the little girl fully recovered, the mom said.
Cannabis edibles, drinks and related products are coming to market in Canada in mid-December. A recent Deloitte report shows nearly half of likely edible users are planning to consume gummies, cookies, brownies, or chocolate.
There is also research in the U.S. that shows since legalization in states like Colorado, emergency room visits by children due to edible poisoning increased.
Manitoba Poison Centre Medical Director Margaret Thompson says the potency of the edibles can be deceiving.
"You don't taste the marijuana in it and so as a child why would I not eat a whole chocolate bar or eat a whole cookie,” said Thompson.
Shared health said instances of kids coming to Children’s Hospital with symptoms of marijuana poisoning are relatively low, but they do happen. It said tracking systems are being developed to provide more formal reports of occurrences. It said clinical leadership with Child Health are monitoring and providing regular updates to Public Health.
Health Canada has rules and regulations around edibles. Each package can only contain 10 MG of THC for baked goods and beverages. Packaging must be plain and not attractive to children, and it must be child resistant.
Margaret Thompson warns child resistant doesn't mean child proof, she said there's no such thing.
"That says nothing about the six-year-old or the teenager that you know just takes a pair of scissors and cuts it open,” Thompson said.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said whether those Health Canada requirements are enough to keep kids safe, is a matter of debate.
“It's rapid, these are rapid changes, rapid introductions of legalization of cannabis just a year ago and rapid introduction now of edible products expanding that market and we have to monitor it on an ongoing basis,” Pallister said.
For businesses, edibles likely can't come rapidly enough.
The same Deloitte report estimates edibles and related products will create a $2.7 billion dollar market in Canada. Manitoba has estimates of $81 million to $135 million a year here worth of revenue.
John Arbuthnot, the CEO of grower and retailer Delta 9 Cannabis, said this is legalization 2.0.
“It's not necessarily stealing revenue from the traditional cannabis products, it's perhaps incremental sales that are just adding to overall industry revenue,” Arbuthnot said.
On safety Arbuthnot said his staff is trained to educate customers on edibles.
The Brandon mom who had the edibles scare said no education, packaging, or rules can guarantee your kids will be safe. She said parents need to take responsibility, and place your goods under lock and key.
“Cause kids can get into something childproof, even if you think they can't,” said the mom.