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Pot Poisonings Up, Colorado Health Department Urges Responsibility

DENVER (CBS4) - The number of marijuana-related calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center grows every year. In 2018, about a third involved children under the age of nine.

Now the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has launched a campaign urging parents to take precautions.

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(credit: Kate Peters)

According to a 2017 health department survey, an estimated 23,000 homes in Colorado with children ages one to 14 had marijuana in the home and potentially unsafely stored.

Kate Peters has two children including an active, inquisitive 3 year old. Peters keeps marijuana products in her home in Lakewood. They include candy and cookies with THC, edibles that could be enticing to a child.

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"They're things that kids look at and say I want to eat that, that tastes good," Peters told CBS 4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

When Peters began consulting with CDPHE on its 'Responsibility Grows Here Campaign', she invested in a bag with a lock for her pot.

"It just gives me peace of mind to know that it's stored safely," she said.

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CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews Kate Peters. (credit: CBS)

In 2017, there were 222 marijuana exposures called in to the poison center. The number grew to 265 in 2018. About a third were children under the age of 9. The majority had ingested edibles, mostly candy.

"It often looks like difficulty breathing, feeling sleepy, having a problem sitting up or walking," said Jessica Neuwirth, a Retail Marijuana Educator for CDPHE.

Child resistant packaging for marijuana is Colorado law.

"Once you hit the age of three, this is much easier to open," she explained popping the top off a marijuana container.

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So Neuwirth encourages parents to store their stash in a locked container.

"This particular one has a combination. There's other that are lock and key," she said.

Neuwirth also suggests you make sure your children recognize the symbol for marijuana and know that it means the gummy or cookie is not for them.

CDPHE wants parents to set the bar high when it comes to cannabis around kids.

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The following is from the "Responsibility Grows Here" website:

Kids, pets, or even curious visitors can get into marijuana if it's not locked up and out of sight. It's always best to keep marijuana in the child-resistant packaging from the retailer, and invest in a safe or lockbox to ensure the only person who can get to your marijuana is you. Because even as your kids get older, it's important to keep your stash locked away safe and sound.

If a child accidentally eats marijuana in any form, immediately contact a medical professional or call the poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222). You may know if someone has accidentally used marijuana if he has problems walking or sitting up, difficulty breathing and becoming sleepy. If the reaction seems more severe, call 911 or go to an emergency room right away.

For more information go to:

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