The Most Dangerous Drug for Kids Right Now? Hudson Valley Hospitals Say,” It’s Marijuana, Not Fentanyl!
In the past few weeks, Westchester high school students who had bad reactions to drugs had to call 911 twice. There were rumors or guesses that fentanyl was to blame both times.
But it’s likely that pot was to blame.
This didn’t surprise experts, who say that marijuana has quickly become a major health concern among teens, much more so than fentanyl, which is still a problem for adults who use hard drugs.
Now that marijuana is legal for adults to use in New York and dispensaries are starting to open, it has become so common that many kids don’t think of it as a drug.
When he asks minors in the emergency room if they use drugs, Dr. Jamil Rizqalla, who is the associate medical director of the emergency medicine department at Montefiore Nyack Hospital, says they usually say “no.” But when he asks if they smoke pot, they’ll say yes.
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It wasn’t Fentanyl, but Pot
Because fentanyl is linked to overdose deaths, people are more worried about it.
So when students got sick in New Rochelle and Pelham, the topic of fentanyl came up quickly.
When a student in New Rochelle was given Narcan in January, school officials at first thought it was because of fentanyl. But it turned out that the student was vaping something they thought was marijuana, and police later said that the student didn’t have any opioids in their system. Narcan is a life-saving drug that is given to people who have overdosed on opioids. It doesn’t hurt people who haven’t taken opioids.
And in February, after four Pelham students ate edible marijuana in a school bathroom and were taken to the hospital, a fake Instagram account spread rumors that fentanyl was involved. The district soon told the superintendent that they didn’t think fentanyl was a factor.
Rizqalla said that fentanyl is still mostly a threat to adults.
“Most of the people who overdose on fentanyl are heroin addicts who got fentanyl mixed in with their heroin,” he said.
But he said that marijuana on its own has become a serious problem that sends kids to the hospital. It’s easy for kids to get, whether they get it on the street or from an adult who buys it legally at a dispensary.
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The Trouble With Food Is That
Marijuana that can be eaten by accident is quickly becoming a problem.
“Many things you can eat look like candy,” said Dr. Ivan Miller, who runs the emergency room at Westchester Medical Center. “They look like candy, so it’s not surprising that young children are eating them by accident.”
And it’s not just kids who eat weed gummies by mistake. Miller said that adults are mistaking them for similar candies that don’t have THC.
Edibles can also have a lot of THC, maybe even more than a person is used to. Even if they want to get high, kids can end up in the emergency room if they take an edible.
A study from the Southern Illinois School of Medicine found that the number of kids younger than 6 who ate cannabis rose from 207 in 2017 to 3,054 in 2021. Between 2017 and 2021, 22.7% of the 7,034 people who were exposed were taken to the hospital.
The study said that in January 2017, eight states and Washington, D.C., let people use cannabis for fun. By May 2022, the number had grown to 18 states and the District of Columbia.
Is Too Much Marijuana Dangerous?
Rizqalla said that marijuana is a hallucinogen, so everyone reacts to it differently. However, most people don’t die from taking too much of it.
Rizqalla said, “We’ve seen cases where people who used too much marijuana or synthetic marijuana had sudden psychotic breaks or developed psychiatric illnesses they’d never had before.”
Miller said that it can make people feel dizzy, disoriented, and confused and that these effects can last for up to 24 hours. When someone accidentally eats something with THC in it, the effects, which can take hours to show up, can be scary.