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Toddler hospitalized after eating cake pop made with cannabis

A Toledo child overdosed on cannabis after mistakenly eating a THC-laced cake pop from a Florida store.
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 12:35 AM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - An Ohio mom is sending out a warning to other parents after her toddler ended up in the hospital when he accidentally ate a cake pop made with cannabis.

While on vacation in Florida last month, Rebecca Villarreal said she noticed something was very wrong with her 3-year-old son, Emilio, WTVG reports.

“I knew right away that something wasn’t right. You just know your kid, you know what I mean?” Villarreal said.

After dinner one night, she says her family stopped for a treat at Groovy Smoothie in Tarpon Springs. According to their Facebook page, the store sells items such as fruit bowls, juices and smoothies with the choice of being infused with cannabis.

Villarreal claims an employee offered to make them a smoothie without cannabis in it that was safe for children to consume.

“I told her I thought it was just a smoothie store. She said, ‘No, no, it’s okay. I can still make a smoothie for the kids,” Villarreal said.

Meanwhile, her 3-year-old son asked for a cake pop from a refrigerator that was labeled as a “kid-friendly cake pop.”

“Ten minutes later, it triggered him,” Villarreal said. “He fell asleep on the car ride home, and we put him to bed. When he woke up, he was screaming and crying.”

That’s when she rushed her son to Advent Health North Pinellas Hospital. The diagnosis was accidental marijuana overdose.

“He was shaking and twitching the whole time in the hospital. They took a CT scan to make sure it wasn’t a seizure, and thank God, it wasn’t,” Villarreal said.

Turns out, the cake pop was made with 100 milligrams of THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana that makes users high.

Dr. Ateeq Hasseb, who is a pediatric neurologist with Mercy Health, explained that according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of children under 12 who have ingested edibles jumped from 132 in 2016 to almost 2,500 last year.

He added that the higher the level of THC, the more severe the symptoms.

“Symptoms can range from high blood pressure, seizures could happen and when you start going to higher levels, respirations can be affected,” Hasseb said. “What would happen if someone doesn’t breathe the right way? You could damage the brain.”

Villarreal says an employee accidentally placed a THC cake pop in the “kid-friendly” area. The owner of Groovy Smoothie gave them a card that read in part, “We sincerely apologize and hope you get well soon.”

Villarreal adds that the owner claimed she would make changes to the protocol, including holding a staff meeting and putting a lock on the refrigerator door. However, when Villarreal went back the next day, no changes were made.

“To me, I don’t think she even took this seriously,” she said. “I trusted they wouldn’t put anything in my kids’ drinks or have anything around for kids to grab that has CBD or THC in it.”

Villarreal now wants there to be changes, so this doesn’t happen to another young child.

“I don’t think there should be any type of edibles where kids can go into. They like to see the gummies, the brownies, the cake pops. They are going to go for that,” Villarreal said. “If it wasn’t me, it could have happened to someone else.”

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