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Dublin children hospitalised by cannabis-infused edibles

Gardaí are investigating after several children at a house in west Dublin were hospitalised after eating cannabis-infused edibles.

In a statement, police said that the children fell ill after eating the products advertised as “Runtz” sweets. These were seized by officers, and are now being analysed by Forensic Science Ireland.

It is understood that the children’s illnesses are not life-threatening. However, the Garda statement cautioned that anyone feeling unwell after taking edible should seek urgent medical attention.

This is not the first time that children have become ill after consuming cannabis sweets, however.

In 2021 Pediatric Emergency Medicine Consultant Dr. Paddy Fitzpatrick explained how children in Ireland as young as 3 were being “poisoned” by cannabis jellies.

“We have seen a significant increase this year in the amount of children presenting with poisoning from edible cannabis, mainly in the form of cannabis jellies,” he said at the time, speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“This is a big concern for us in paediatric medicine as these products are packaged and marketed in a copycat branded way, very similar to normal jellies or sweets.”

That same year, two boys – a three year old and a four year old – were admitted to Temple Street Hospital after ingesting jellies believed to contain THC – a component of cannabis.

The HSE recently issued a warning about ingesting synthetic cannabinoids – artificial chemicals that “will produce similar, more potent effects” of THC. According to the health service, these artificial chemicals can sometimes cause difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness and loss of consciousness.

While the specific amounts of edibles seized by authorities are not recorded, cannabis products seizures more than doubled in the year between 2019 and 2020, going from 515kg seized (€10 million worth) to 1.439kg (€28.6 million).

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) previously warned of what they call a “sinister attempt to sell narcotics in the form of sweets.”

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI, THC is a toxic contaminant and should not be added to any food.

“This new development is a sinister attempt to sell narcotics in the form of sweets and those involved are obviously not concerned about the consequences of these products getting into the hands of vulnerable people like children who could consume these products unwittingly to the detriment of their health,” Dr. Byrne said.

“Sweets containing cannabis components are being sold online or by other means. They are dangerous, particularly for young people and those with prior health conditions who may consume them unwittingly”

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