GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – More children are getting sick from accidentally eating marijuana edibles.

Snack and candy packages may look normal, but it’s what’s causing an increase in children overdosing on edibles containing high levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

ECU Health Medical Center’s Dr. Jason Hack said they’ve seen cases of pediatric THC exposure at ECU Health, primarily through the ingestion of edibles, and it’s something they’re also seeing across the country in increasing numbers.

“There was a study just published in January of 2023 in the pediatrics that looked at the increasing numbers of pediatric THC exposures, and the number one effect was central nervous system alteration,” said Hack.

Just a few symptoms health officials are seeing include depression, becoming comatose and breathing problems as well as vomiting and having trouble walking.

There’s been an increase in calls to the Poison Control Centers in kids five years old and under consuming edibles. There were 207 calls made in 2017 and 3,054 in 2021.

Hack said the issue with many edibles is the packaging and being placed in food products that are sweet.

Solar Cannabis Products director Kyleen Keenan makes and sells edible marijuana products to dispensaries, which she said is highly regulated by the Cannabis Control Commission. She added the products advertised as snacks come from the black market.

“So many people are making black market cannabis and those products can look like Sour Patch Kids because there’s no regulation on that,” said Keenan.

Hack said education around edibles is important, but prevention is critical.

“I want people to consider delta eight THC in the same way as delta nine THC for child safety. Keep it up, keep it away and keep it locked up in a house where a child might get in it because the effects are very similar,” said Hack.

Experts warn that children find edibles typically at home or at a babysitter’s house. Hack said to be sure to tell children not to eat candy that’s not given to them by a responsible adult.