Mother raises awareness after her 6-year-old eats marijuana gummy

A 6-year-old Florida girl had to be hospitalized last month after eating a marijuana gummy that she mistook for regular candy. The girl, who spent the night in an emergency room in Jacksonville after being found unresponsive, has since recovered, but the frightening experience prompted the child’s mother to go public about what happened in order to raise awareness and warn other parents.
A 6-year-old Florida girl had to be hospitalized last month after eating a marijuana gummy that she mistook for regular candy. The girl, who spent the night in an emergency room in Jacksonville after being found unresponsive, has since recovered, but the frightening experience prompted the child’s mother to go public about what happened in order to raise awareness and warn other parents.

Credit: Social media photo via Facebook

Credit: Social media photo via Facebook

Someone at pool party left edible in changing room; girl thought it was candy

A 6-year-old Florida girl had to be hospitalized last month after eating a cannabis-infused gummy that she mistook for regular candy.

The girl, who spent the night in an emergency room in Jacksonville after being found unresponsive, has since recovered, but the frightening experience prompted the child’s mother to go public about what happened to raise awareness about duplicitous packaging and warn other parents to lock away their edibles.

“If we have marijuana packaged like candy, children are far more likely to eat it than if it were packaged like medication, which is what it is,” said 39-year-old Morgan McCoy, who shared her story this week with the “TODAY” show. “It’s a drug and all of our drugs are packaged in childproof stuff, even vitamins and children’s Tylenol.”

McCoy recounted the incident in a Facebook post June 1.

The mishap began in late May at a large pool party in Jacksonville where McCoy visited in-laws along with her husband and daughter, according to “TODAY.” McCoy said she left the gathering for a short time to visit with her sister, and while gone her daughter apparently found the edibles which someone left in one of the rooms of the house that the family used during a previous visit.

McCoy returned to find her daughter taking a nap with the other children but wouldn’t respond when she tried to wake her up.

“My daughter was laying on the ground. I picked her up and I was praying it was just fatigue, but she was non-responsive,” McCoy said. “I told them to call 911. Whenever I turned back around and I saw her, she had sat up and was seizing.”

At that moment, one of the party’s 30 attendees who left earlier called to say she was missing one of her edibles that she had likely left in the changing room.

There, McCoy found an empty package of “Faded Fruits” brand edibles that indicated the girl had ingested at least 50 mg of THC.

An ambulance soon arrived and transported the girl to the hospital, where she detoxed overnight with worried parents by her side, “TODAY” reported.

“We just stayed the night in the hospital watching her breaths go into single digits and her heart rate go through the roof,” she said. “I just thank God that there was only one in there.”

The girl had taken five times the industry norm for the drug, which is about 10 mg, “TODAY” reported, citing a statement by Morgan Fox, the media relations director at the National Cannabis Industry Association.

“Even with the one (gummy), the next day, after three quarters of a bag of fluids, her urine was still brown. So it definitely affected her kidneys in a negative way,” McCoy said.

Fox said it was likely the gummy may have been “unregulated” or sold as an “illicit” product.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported an increase in emergency calls about children under age 12 being exposed to marijuana in recent years, TODAY reported.

There were 2,767 calls in 2019 compared with 5,083 calls in 2020, and there have been 3,104 calls so far this year.

The dramatic increase appears to coincide with wider legalization of the substances, lessening the fear parents might have had before about reporting such incidents.

“Prior to legalization, parents stood the possibility of potentially losing custody of their kids, if it was discovered that their kids had accidentally ingested cannabis products, and this even holds true in states where medical cannabis was legal,” Fox told “TODAY.” “It’s not really so much the case anymore. But I think a lot of cases, that this may have been happening to be underreported.”

McCoy said her daughter appears to be back to her normal self and not showing any other adverse effects.

“God put this on my plate for a reason,” McCoy said. “There are always going to be kids who get into things that they shouldn’t. And unless we fix the packaging, (accidental ingestion) is going to keep increasing and increasing.”

The issues with marijuana packaging range from it not being secure enough to colorful ad cartoonish imagery that appeals to children, according to doctors and poison control experts. The rules for packaging also vary by state.

“We have legalized marijuana. The requirements for packaging, child safety proof containers, labeling, all of that, has not followed as quickly,” Dr. Erica Michiels, a pediatric emergency medicine doctor at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told “TODAY.” “If you go buy a bottle of ibuprofen at the pharmacy it is going to have a childproof cap on it.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta also warns that taking a large enough dose of marijuana can cause health risks, such as increased blood pressure, confusion, anxiety, hallucinations and an elevated heart rate. While a fatal overdose is unlikely, children are more susceptible to problems because any dose they ingest would be proportionately higher than doses taken by an adult.

“Little kids don’t sneak a corner of a candy bar. They eat the whole candy bar,” Michiels said. “Young children can overdose on marijuana quite easily because it’s a really potent product now and they have very tiny bodies. But we even see fully grown teenagers overdose on marijuana.”

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