Local emergency room doctors are warning people this Halloween of marijuana-infused candy and the health concerns that come with taking them unknowingly.
Since marijuana became recreationally legal in California in January, adults age 21 and over are able to buy an assortment of cannabis products from gummy bears to chocolate bars to drinks.
Dr. Roneet Lev of Scripps Health said kids can accidentally eat these chocolates and gummies with pot in them.
But adults can be at risk too, Dr. Lev warns. She has seen people come into the emergency room on a regular basis with symptoms of marijuana poisoning, which can including psychosis, screaming, and vomiting.
Lev said the condition has become so common, ER staff have coined a term that helps identify it: "scromiting," for "screaming" and "vomiting."
But Osvaldo Rodriguez, the manager of SDRC, a recreational marijuana dispensary in Mission Valley, said there are telltale signs that candy has cannabis in it.
“The packaging itself is super child-resistant, tamper-proof," said Rodriguez. "It’s very hard for even an adult to open it."
Rodriguez added that chocolate with cannabis in it is not only marked on the packaging but also stamped into the edible portion of the product.
"The recommended dose for California is every edible has to be at 10 mg per piece," Rodriguez explained. "The chocolate itself also has the 10 mg number perforated into it as well.”
Rodriguez said college students celebrating Halloween should be extra vigilant this year when eating candies at parties. It can prevent a trip to the hospital.
"The candy will have a distinct smell of herbal wheatgrass," said Rodriguez. "Don't consume it. Taste it: give it a lick or bite it and spit it out. You will be able to taste the difference between a jolly ranger and a jolly ranger with plant inside of it."
Between 2006 and 2014, the number of persons discharged from emergency departments in San Diego County (with cannabis as a primary diagnosis) increased from 86 to 232.
The number of persons discharged from San Diego County emergency departments with cannabis as a primary or secondary diagnosis combined, increased from 1,108 to 10,302.