On May 6th, 2022, 4-year-old Tanner Clements was put on life support after accidentally ingesting edibles laced with THC. He died just two days later.
His mother, Dorothy Annette Clements, is currently facing child neglect charges and felony murder for the accidental death.
She told authorities that she noticed her son was having difficulty breathing. That’s when she “somehow realized” that he had eaten one of her cannabis gummies. She assumed it wouldn’t hurt him, but when his symptoms persisted, she finally called poison control.
According to a statement made by the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia:
“The attending doctor told Detectives that if medical intervention occurred shortly after ingestion, it could have prevented death… Statements made by the mother did not match evidence seized at the home… Detectives believe the child ingested a large amount of THC gummies”
The 4-year-old was found unresponsive at their home. After he was rushed to the hospital, doctors noted that Tanner’s blood levels were “extremely high” with THC. He died two days later.
Unfortunately, Tanner Clements’ story is just one of many cautionary tales of children accidentally consuming highly concentrated THC edibles.
This is because…
Children are mistaking marijuana edibles for regular treats and candies
According to the FDA:
“Some edible products are designed to mimic the appearance of well-known branded foods by using similar brand names, logos, or pictures on their packaging.
These copycats are easily mistaken for popular, well-recognized foods that appeal to children… Like Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, Nerds Ropes, Starbursts, and Sour Patch Kids, among others [²].”
What’s more, multiple studies have noted that marijuana edibles are usually made with highly concentrated THC oil or butter. A typical edible may contain 10-30 mg of THC.
But due to the lack of regulation in the cannabis industry, the amount of THC in edibles varies widely across products.
And even a small dose of THC can cause moderate to severe side effects in children.
According to Jill McCabe, Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency and Pediatric Hospital Services:
“THC gummies, definitely in any quantity, pose a risk to children. There’s many reasons for that. One is that the packaging does not include any kind of a child-proof mechanism. They also look like candy… when children come across them, most children are going to put that in their mouth and ingest it”
Given that THC edibles are designed to mask the bitter taste of marijuana, children often consume multiple edibles at a time without realizing their life-threatening effects.
Poison Control Centers have noted a significant increase of calls involving children accidentally ingesting Marijuana edible
According to Harvard Health and the Pediatrics Journal: “Between 2017 and 2019, there were 4,712 calls to regional poison control centers about exposures to cannabis in babies and children through age 9. About half of the calls were related to edibles.”
The New Jersey Poison Control alone has observed a 370% increase in “pediatric cannabis edible exposures” between 2019 – 2021.
Today, Emergency Departments have reported a dramatic surge in the number of children and teenagers who experience life-threatening effects from consuming marijuana edibles.
Experts warn that too much THC can cause seizures and a significant drop in a child’s vital signs. That’s what happened to 2-year-old Oliver Perry in 2021.
“He was unusually lethargic… I was putting him to sleep and laid him down, and he started shaking and crying and looked at me with just utter fear in his eyes,” Elizabeth Perry, Oliver’s mother, shared in an interview with NBC Washington.
She quickly rushed him to her local Medical Center. Turns out, Oliver had unknowingly eaten a few of his mother’s prescription marijuana edibles.
He was medevaced to the Children’s National Hospital in D.C., where he fully recovered after 36 hours of fluctuating vital signs and seizures.
While Oliver’s case ended with a full recovery, his turmoil could’ve been prevented.
Parents need to properly store their cannabis edibles to keep their children safe
“Kids are curious and can’t normally tell the difference between products with and without THC,” stated Vince Calleo, the medical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center.
“It’s easy to forget and leave something out on a table or a counter, but please remember to treat marijuana products just like a dangerous medication…
Up high and out of reach of children is the best place to store all cannabis-related products. Placing THC edibles in medication lock boxes can decrease the chances of children accidentally eating them.”
Unfortunately, there is currently no approved medical treatment for THC intoxication. And until recently, medical professionals have relied on strong sedatives to help minimize the side effects of THC. And these aren’t always effective.
Anebulo Pharmaceuticals is developing the first antidote to help treat THC overdose.
With pediatric marijuana edible exposures on the rise nationwide, Anebulo Pharmaceuticals has taken it upon themselves to create a groundbreaking treatment for THC intoxication.
The antidote is called ANEB-001, and it works as a CB1 antagonist. In other words, it can potentially prevent and even reverse the harsh side effects of THC intoxication in children and adults.
According to Dr. Andrew Monte M.D., Ph.D., a professor of Emergency Medicine & Medical Toxicology at the University of Colorado:
“Patients are coming from multiple settings including first-time users taking small doses of THC, adults and children inadvertently ingesting powerful THC gummies, and regular users unintentionally overdosing on new and more powerful THC products.
Introducing an effective cannabinoid antidote into our treatment options would represent a significant improvement in how we can manage these patients.”
ANEB-001 has the potential to be the first clinically proven antidote available for those suffering from THC intoxication. Anebulo Pharmaceuticals continues to raise awareness of the dangers of THC overdose, especially in children.