CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — A new report released by the University of Virginia Health System found calls to the Blue Ridge Poison Center for children accidentally consuming marijuana edibles increased three times in 2022 as compared to the previous year.

The poison center received a total of 77 calls in 2022, a substantial increase from the 26 calls received in 2021. The disturbing local trend has been seen nationwide as pot has become legal in more places across the United States.

UVA Health reports 68% of the calls in 2022 involved children aged five and younger, a total of 52 calls. Most of these children had to be hospitalized, the healthcare system said.

Children who consume marijuana edibles can reportedly experience rapid heart rates, low blood pressure, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, profound sedation and seizures, UVA Health said.

UVA Health medical toxicologist Chris Holstege, MD, claims most of the cases are caused by children mistaking the edible marijuana products for candy.

“As an adult, I cannot tell the difference between some of the edible cannabis products now emerging on the market because the products closely mimic available candies such as caramels and gum drops,” he said in a release.

Blue Ridge Poison Center Calls for Accidental Consumption of Marijuana Edibles (Photo: UVA Health)

The calls in recent years contrast sharply with calls in 2018, 2019 and 2020, during which time the poison center said it received one call, four calls and 11 calls, respectively. With UVA taking into consideration that the poison center will not be called every time an accidental ingestion occurs, it believes these numbers only represent a fraction of the total cases.