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If your child gets into prescription drugs, marijuana, or alcohol, what will it look like and what should you do? 

The child may have problems walking or sitting up, have a hard time breathing or start to be sleepy. If you are unsure or your child is acting differently, call the poison control hotline as soon as possible: 1-800-222-1222. If you have the slightest concern, call 911 or go to an emergency room.

  • Most common marijuana overdose incidents by children are “edibles” (cupcakes, gummy bears, brownies, etc.).

  • Beware: the amount of alcohol causing alcohol poisoning for a young child could be as little as a small water bottle (4 ounces). Signs of alcohol poisoning include: unconsciousness, slow respiration, cold/clammy/pale or bluish skin, and strong alcohol odor. Never leave someone who is unconscious alone. Turn the person on their left side; use a pillow to keep them in that position. Stay with them until help arrives.

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Secondhand Smoke: Marijuana smoke could negatively impact your child’s health as has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke and can damage heart and blood vessels, especially in a closed space like a car or house (American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014). More research is needed.

Legal Issues: It is illegal to allow a child access to medical or legal marijuana, even accidently, and can lead to an involvement with law enforcement or child welfare. Mandated reporters must report incidents. (Stacee Read, Director NDEC)


When pregnant or breast feeding, there is no known safe level of use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and drugs: All can pass from mother to the unborn child through the placenta and breast milk, potentially affecting the baby. Be sure to talk with your doctor, if you are using prescription drugs.


Web sites & webinars with more information

Can you tell the difference? know/resources

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The American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a very thoughtful piece against medical marijuana and legalization, after reviewing all the attendant health harms, particularly related to youth. Pediatrics 3/2015.

©2020 Tisch, Gardner, Sibley

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