Space cakes, cannabis lollipops or second-hand smoke: the source may be different but the rate at which young children in France are being rushed to hospital in an intoxicated state is very much on a high.
A new study by the country’s National Agency for Drug Safety (ANSM) reveals the rate at which minors are being accidentally (and often negligently) exposed to THC-containing cannabis has at least tripled in the last three years.
Between 2015 and September 2017, nearly 200 cases were recorded in France, three times the amount of the 2010-2014 period. The rate of severe cannabis intoxication among minors (situations in which the child’s life is threatened) has quintupled, the study found.
The most common serious cases involve children swallowing cannabis resin, usually in the form of a hashish ball, which the children confuse with chocolate or something else that’s edible.
Very young children are reported to be the main victims. According to a 2017 study published by French pediatricians, 7 out of 10 cannabis poisonings among minors involved toddlers under a year and a half of age.
ANSM’s report found that from 2015 to 2017 ten children in France were hospitalized for more than 48 hours, including one for 11 days.
The main symptoms found in minors under the influence are excessive sleepiness, agitation, vomiting, dilated pupils, hypotonia (floppy baby syndrome), respiratory distress, convulsions and a fast and irregular heart rate.
In ten percent of cases, young intoxicated kids went into a coma. Fortunately, no children in France have died from cannabis intoxication in the past three years.
The THC content (the psychoactive substance ) in cannabis being sold in France “has been tripled in ten years to reach 23 percent,” says France’s ANSM, only serving to make the chances of severe intoxication among unwitting minors even higher.
Legal action against negligent parents who expose their children to drugs in France ranges from fines to prison sentences.
In 2017, the parents of a 14-month-old girl intoxicated by their cannabis were each handed a one-year prison sentence by a judge in France's Alpes Maritimes department.