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Delta 8 gummies dangerously appealing to kids, says Blue Ridge Poison Center

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Randi B. Hagi
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Gummies are a popular Delta 8 THC product.

The Blue Ridge Poison Center at UVa Health is seeing a sharp spike in calls related to Delta 8 products. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

Delta 8 THC is a compound that naturally occurs in very small amounts in cannabis flowers, but can be extracted and distilled. It can then be sprayed onto hemp flower for smoking, or made into edibles, like gummies. Dr. Christopher Holstege, who directs the Blue Ridge Poison Center, said the gummies in particular have become a problem.

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UVa Health
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Dr. Christopher Holstege directs the Blue Ridge Poison Center.

CHRISTOPHER HOLSTEGE: Toddlers especially are getting into these products.

In the past year, the center received 112 calls about adverse reactions to Delta 8 products – more than five times than it did the year prior. A third of the calls in the past year were for children under the age of 15.

HOLSTEGE: By far, the majority of them, the kids are getting into the products, and they don't know what they're getting. … The packages actually look like Skittles or Nerd Ropes. They look like candy packages, and the kids will find them in the house, and then they'll start to eat them.

When adults call because of a reaction to Delta 8, they most often complain of anxiety, a rapid heart rate, and a feeling that, [quote] "my heart is going to explode," as Holstege recounted. Some of the children also have elevated heart rates, but more often, they're overly sedate.

HOLSTEGE: I've had numerous cases at the University of Virginia Health, for example, that we've admitted overnight to the pediatric unit, and we had one that needed to be admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit, just because of concerns for airway and their vital signs.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services declared Delta 8 edibles, like gummies, illegal at the end of June. The Blue Ridge Poison Center is staffed by healthcare providers and is completely confidential. Their number is 1-800-222-1222.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.