FOX23 Investigates: Calls to poison control triple since Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana

TULSA, Okla. — Calls to the poison control hotline have nearly tripled since medical marijuana was legalized.

In a FOX23 investigation, we found the number of calls about marijuana to the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information went from 94 in 2017 to 85 in 2018, then grew to 235 in 2019.

Of those 235, 48 calls were for a child under 5, and 71 calls were for people between the ages of 6 and 19.

Children who have ingested marijuana accidentally will likely experience extreme drowsiness. In rare cases they may need oxygen to control their breathing. They can also experience paranoia or hallucinations since they aren’t familiar with the feeling of using cannabis.

Poison control can help answer questions and provide guidance for people experiencing an emergency. They can help people decide whether they need a trip to the emergency room or need to go to the doctor.

Not all calls are from panicked parents. Many people call the line with questions about the new drug.

The assistant director at the Center for Poison and Drug Information says people may feel more comfortable talking to someone over the phone, as they may be embarrassed to talk to their doctor.

Poison control employees say they are not surprised by the increase, since more people have access to marijuana.

The center recommends people treat marijuana like any other drug. Keep it up and away from children, and don’t refer to it as candy. Keep it in a lock box or with added precautions if you’re worried.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Association requires marijuana products to be sold in child resistant containers. They must contain the poison control phone number on the package, along with the “Oklahoma uniform symbol” declaring it as a marijuana product.