5 students ingest edibles brought to Halifax elementary school, taken to hospital: police

Click to play video: 'Halifax elementary students taken to hospital after consuming edibles'
Halifax elementary students taken to hospital after consuming edibles
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Police are investigating after five students at a Halifax elementary school were taken to hospital after consuming cannabis edibles that were brought to the school by a classmate.

In a statement on Thursday, Halifax Regional Police confirmed that officers responded to Springvale Elementary at about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in relation to a suspected drug ingestion by several students.

“A student brought packages of labeled cannabis edibles from home to the school and shared with four other students,” said police Const. John MacLeod.

“Those students were all taken to hospital for treatment as a precautionary measure, as they were all showing signs of ingestion.”

MacLeod said investigators are looking to speak with the impacted students and parents to obtain more information.

“There wasn’t any belief that the ingestion was going to be life-threatening, but it was important that they did get the medical attention to make sure there was no issues for those students,” he added.

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A text and email were sent to parents at the school on Wednesday evening notifying them of the incident.

“Please take a moment this evening to talk with your children about the importance of not sharing food/drink with other students, and not accepting food/drink from other students,” the email read.

“The safety and well-being of all our students is our highest priority.”

Police said an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

In a statement provided to Global News, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) said it was made aware that the students accidentally ingested the substance shortly after the incident occurred.

“They became ill at school and required medical treatment,” said Lindsey Bunin, communications officer with the HRCE.

“The matter is being handled by police and in accordance with the Provincial School Code of Conduct.”

Ryan Lutes, president of Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union, described the incident as a “parent’s worst nightmare” during an interview on Thursday.

“My heart goes out to those kids, those parents, I hope that they’re doing ok,” he said.

A rise in consumption amongst children

MaryAnne Carew, a nurse with the Atlantic Canada Poison Centre, said she’s witnessed a “steady rise” in the number of calls regarding children accidentally ingesting cannabis edibles.

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“In 2022, we received 63 calls with children under the age of five alone with cannabis edible calls,” she said, adding that the protocol is always to refer the child to an emergency department.

“We’re concerned about children, in particular, because their body size is small. They are naive to cannabis, and therefore, it can cause some significant poisoning or make them quite sick.”

Carew said the varying potency among cannabis products is one of her biggest concerns, as some unregulated edibles can contain a significantly high dosage.

She said some packaging can cause children to mistake the edibles for another product, as some designs look strikingly similar to popular food and candy brands.

“The big concern is drowsiness. They can get quite sleepy to the point where we actually worry about them being able to protect their airway,” Carew continued, adding that vomiting and seizures can sometimes occur when a high dose of cannabis is consumed by a child.

If cannabis products are located inside a home with children, Carew said that the items should be labelled and locked inside a compartment that is kept out of a child’s reach.

She said that people should contact the Atlantic Canada Poison Centre if they believe that a child has gotten into a cannabis product.

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“We’re here 24/7, we can walk you through it. We can give you the proper advice,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: Study finds cannabis poisonings among children have spiked since edibles became legal'
Health Matters: Study finds cannabis poisonings among children have spiked since edibles became legal

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