A tragic death of a 4-year-old child has raised questions about the problems children get from tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychedelic compound found in cannabis.
On Thursday, the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Department in Virginia announced that Dorothy Annette Clements had been charged with aggravated murder and child neglect in connection with the death of her son, Tanner Clements. The child was found suffering from a medical emergency on May 6 at a home he and his mother had been visiting. He died two days later.
The investigation into Tanner Clements’ death eventually determined that it was the result of complications caused by consuming THC gummies. The boy’s mother initially told police she had called poison control after he ate half of a CBD gummy and was told he would be fine.
However, an investigation of the home later revealed an empty can of THC gummies. A subsequent toxicology test also showed that the boy had “extremely” high levels of the compound in his body, according to The Free Lance Star. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia told WSOC 9 News last week that his cause of death was officially listed as delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol toxicity.
Are THC Gummies Toxic to Children?
The 4-year-old’s death has renewed concern for some about the dangers to children of THC products. While the compound and the various plants that contain it are generally known to be less harmful than other substances, it can still pose significant risks to young children.
The main problem with gum products is that the amount of THC they can contain is not regulated by any official body and varies widely. According to WebMD, several gum products can contain as much as 10-15 milligrams of THC, while the recommended amount for adults using the drug for the first time is 2.5-5 milligrams.
It is generally agreed that no amount of THC is safe for children. WebMD states that children who consume edibles may experience the symptoms of “marijuana intoxication or THC intoxication.” These may include the following: altered perceptions, slurred speech, increased heart rate, intense sleepiness, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, poor coordination, and seizures. The effects are thought to be more serious for children under 10 years of age. Children are also likely to consume more than knowledgeable adults, as they may perceive a product as a normal candy.
Parents who believe their child has consumed any amount of THC-laced product are encouraged to call poison control as soon as possible. Investigators in Tanner Clements’ case believe he could have survived if he had received medical attention earlier.
Despite the risks posed to children, natural THC and marijuana are not known to pose a significant risk of death, although it is not unheard of, especially from synthetic THC products. It is possible that Tanner Clements’ case was aggravated by other factors. It is not currently known exactly how many gummies he consumed or how much THC his body was found to contain post mortem. His mother also later claimed that the investigation into his death revealed an unspecified problem with his heart and that THC caused him to experience a cardiac episode.
Newsweek contacted the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office for comment.