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Michigan health officials trying to reduce number of kids ingesting marijuana

NOW: Michigan health officials trying to reduce number of kids ingesting marijuana

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BENTON HARBOR, Ind. --- The Michigan Poison Center at Wayne State University has seen a spike in calls about children ingesting marijuana. The Center has received a total of 59 calls already this year—that’s 53 more calls than in all of 2017.

More than half of those 59 pediatric calls involved children eating marijuana edibles, according to the Michigan Poison Center.

Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency and Berrien County Health Department launched campaigns to educate legal medical and recreational marijuana users about the risks.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or LARA, provided funding for these health departments to educate legal users. Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency received $50,000 in funding and the Berrien County Health Department received $45,000.

The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency launched a campaign and purchased lock boxes with keys and pamphlets to hand out to legal users in the three counties for free. The agency purchased 360 lock boxes for each of the three counties.

“Those little ones, whatever it may be, we definitely need to keep it locked up because they get into stuff,” said Rebecca Burns, Health Officer for Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency. “They get into your kitchen cabinets, they get into the stuff at home and if they don’t know what it is and they ingest it, they can get real sick,” continued Burns.

The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency has handed out 128 lock boxes in St. Joseph County, 210 in Hillsdale County and 70 in Branch County.

“When I’ve been out at events, they’ve only been positively received by people,” said Burns. ”’Oh, that’s a really good idea!’…‘Yeah, I absolutely need one of those so that I can lock up the stuff that I have at home,” said Burns.

The Berrien County Health Department launched a campaign to educate users using billboards, fliers and other materials. It’s easy for parents to use safe practices to keep the marijuana out of sight and out of reach, according to Gillian Conrad, Communications Manager for Berrien County Health Department.

“All of that is preventable,” said Conrad. “So we’re really urging that parents, adults… are doing the responsible thing and making sure that marijuana products aren’t falling into the wrong hands,” explained Conrad.

There have been no known cases of child consumption reported in Cass County, according to the Cass County Health Department. The Cass County Health Department also told ABC 57 there are currently no educational programs in place like the ones in other Michigan counties.

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