A mother in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, faces felony murder and child neglect charges after her 4-year-old son died from eating marijuana-infused gummies earlier this year.
Investigators said Dorothy Annette Clements didn't get help soon enough for her son, Tanner Clements, when he was found unresponsive on May 6 at a home they were both visiting.
Tanner Clements died two days later.
Dorothy Annette Clements told a police detective that her son ate half of a CBD gummy and that she called poison control and was assured that he'd be OK, according to search warrant documents.
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But the detective said she found an empty THC gummy jar in the house and toxicology results showed Tanner Clements had extremely high levels of THC in his system, documents say. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that gets people high.
An autopsy found that THC caused the boy's death.
Investigators said he might have survived had Dorothy Annette Clements gotten help for him sooner.
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The Dangers of Children Consuming THC Gummies
Dr. Jill McCabe, a pediatric emergency room physician at Inova Loudoun Hospital, told News4 that any amount of THC can be problematic for children, and it's a growing issue.
"THC gummies definitely in any quantity pose a risk to children. There's many reasons for that. One is that the packaging does not include any kind of a child-proof mechanism," McCabe said. "They also look like candy and so they are something, when children come across them, most children are going to put that in their mouth and ingest it."
The amount of THC in gummies is not regulated and can vary widely.
Parents should lock up any products with THC to make sure kids can’t get to them, McCabe said.
A Maryland parent shared a cautionary tale with News4 in 2021 after her toddler unknowingly ate some of the marijuana edibles she was prescribed for sleep.
"He was unusually lethargic," Elizabeth Perry said. "… I was putting him to sleep and laid him down, and he started shaking and crying and looked at me with just utter fear in his eyes."
Oliver was rushed to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he had seizures and his vitals dropped. Doctors ran tests, and he was intubated and medevacked to Children’s National Hospital in D.C. Oliver made a full recovery after the 36-hour ordeal.
What to Do If a Child Accidentally Eats THC Gummies
A call to Poison Control, 1-800-222-1222, might be enough if the child is showing minor symptoms, McCabe said.
But any serious symptoms such as vomiting or lethargic behavior require urgent action, she said.
"If they're having difficulty breathing, not breathing well, having a seizure, difficulty walking, very lethargic, persistent vomiting, those would all reasons to immediately call 911 and have your child transported to nearest emergency department," McCabe said.
Poison Control says other common side effects children can experience include: rapid heart rate, drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, an abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure.
Recent research suggests that younger children, especially those under 10, who are exposed to cannabis edibles are more likely to require hospital admission and respiratory support than older children, Poison Control says.