As the cultural pendulum swings toward the legalization of marijuana in the United States, there are potentially unintended consequences that may come with it. One of these consequences, according to a new study in Clinical Pediatrics, is exposing more young children to the drug, possibly even poisoning them into a coma or seizure.

The study authors used data from the country’s poison control centers (55 in total as of 2015, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers) to track the rate of accidental marijuana exposure to children from 2000 to 2013. Though the number was relatively small, with only 1,969 reports filed in those years, the authors found that the rate of exposure has risen across the country, particularly in those states which have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. Overall, the rate of exposure has jumped up 147 percent from 2006 to 2013 for children 5 years or younger, while that same time span has seen a 610 percent boost in poison control reports across legalized states. Much like a contact high, even states which haven’t legalized its use in any capacity saw a 63 percent climb in exposures from 2000 to 2013.

According to the authors, these exposures are generally seen among the very young (75 percent of the reports involved children younger than three) and were often caused by ingestion. "The high percentage of ingestions may be related to the popularity of marijuana brownies, cookies and other foods," said study author Dr. Henry Spiller, toxicologist and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital in a press statement. "Very young children explore their environments by putting items in their mouths, and foods such as brownies and cookies are attractive." Though most exposures ended with little incident, the authors note that in rare cases, children went on to suffer side effects like shallow breathing, seizures, and even coma, possibly because of the high levels of THC found in edible marijuana products. More than 18 percent of the cases resulted in hospitalization; however, some were likely due to precaution or as part of an investigation into how the marijuana ended up where it did in the first place than any serious medical concerns.

Though the study did observe poison control reports from 2013, the year after Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use, it remains to be seen whether that might further increase the prevalence of accidental child exposure compared to medical legalization. In 2014, Alaska and Oregon allowed its recreational use as well.

Far from wanting to harsh everyone’s buzz, the authors explain that they want to ensure that all the proper information is laid out on the table as efforts to more broadly legalize pot become popular. "Any state considering marijuana legalization needs to include child protections in its laws from the very beginning," senior study author Dr. Gary Smith said. "Child safety must be part of the discussion when a state is considering legalization of marijuana." These laws may include child-proof and opaque packaging of the products alongside reminders to adults to lock up their stash when children are around.

Fun as it might be for some to indulge in Mary Jane, there’s nothing fun about accidentally poisoning those most vulnerable.

Source: Onders B, Casavant M, Spiller, H, et al. Marijuana Exposure Among Children Younger Than Six Years in the United States. Clinical Pediatrics. 2015.