‘He was in excruciating pain’: Boy, six, hospitalized after eating THC candy sold in North Carolina restaurant to parents who thought they were buying skittles

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • A six-year-old boy in North Carolina unknowingly consumed a cannabis edible that his parents mistook for freeze-dried Skittles 
  • Catherine Buttereit, 45, had no idea the sugary treats were in fact THC-laced candy and that he child had consumed 40 pieces – 13 times a normal adult dose
  • Youngster had to go to hospital after suffering a multitude of painful symptoms

A six-year-old boy is lucky to be alive after eating a cannabis edible which his parents believed were simply freeze-dried Skittles.

Catherine Buttereit, 45, from North Carolina, had been eating lunch at a restaurant in Charlotte when her son spotted what he believed to be a bag of the rare freeze-dried version of the popular candy.

After purchasing the packet she allowed the youngster to indulge as he began munching on the colorful treats, unbeknownst that it was in fact laced with Delta 9, a legal form of THC, the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis.

The chemical is responsible for the euphoric or ‘high’ effects commonly associated with marijuana use.

The substance stimulates areas of the brain involved with mood, attention and memory –  and triggers the release of the ‘pleasure’ hormone dopamine.

Catherine Buttereit, 45, had no idea the sugary treats were in fact THC-laced candy and that he child had consumed 40 pieces – 13 times a normal adult dose

Buttereit believed the candy to be the rare freeze-dried version of the popular candy Skittles, but they were in fact cannabis edibles

Buttereit believed the candy to be the rare freeze-dried version of the popular candy Skittles, but they were in fact cannabis edibles 

The six-year-old boy from North Carolina unknowingly consumed a cannabis edible that his parents mistook for freeze-dried Skittles

The six-year-old boy from North Carolina unknowingly consumed a cannabis edible that his parents mistook for freeze-dried Skittles

In small, irregular doses, THC has little little harm. But in larger hits and when taken over long periods of time, it can disturb the signaling in key brain areas. 

The entire party tired some of the candy including the boy’s parents along with a number of other children in the family.

But while most only tried one or two pieces, Buttereit’s kids ate almost 40 – and it wasn’t long before the little boy was feeling strange.

‘He grabs his head, and he said, “My mind is wobbly.” And I was like, something in my mom-brain was like, there’s something wrong,’ Buttereit said to WSOC.

Her fiancé took a closer look at the label.

‘He’s like, ‘It’s Delta 9,’ she said. ‘And I still don’t know what that means. And he’s like, “It’s like pot.”‘

‘I was terrified,’ Buttereit continued. ‘I thought I had killed my child.’ 

The boy complained of pain in his pelvic area, his chest was cold and his head hurt.

‘He didn’t exhibit symptoms of my child that was actually in pain. He kind of had like a smirk on his face,’ Buttereit said. 

The child had consumed 13 times an adult dosage of THC and was rushed to hospital and had to spend six hours in the emergency room being treated.

‘He was in excruciating pain,’ Buttereit told the New York Post. 

Butteriet said her child was in excruciating pain before he fell into a deep sleep for 17 hours. He finally woke up free from symptoms.

Butteriet said her child was in excruciating pain before he fell into a deep sleep for 17 hours. He finally woke up free from symptoms.

The packet does have a 21+ suggested marking printed on it but the warning is small and stores in North Carolina are not required to enforce age restrictions when selling such products

The edibles were purchased from the Common Market restaurant in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, pictured

Buttereit is keen to see better labeling in stores and for shopkeepers to keep such candies out of reach of youngster - and at the very least offer a warning to unsuspecting parents

Buttereit is keen to see better labeling in stores and for shopkeepers to keep such candies out of reach of youngster – and at the very least offer a warning to unsuspecting parents 

The child fell into a deep sleep for 17 hours before finally waking up when he was finally free from symptoms. 

‘I was never asked for an ID. I was never informed of what I was purchasing.’ 

The packet does have a 21+ suggested marking printed on it but the warning is small and stores in North Carolina are not required to enforce age restrictions when selling such products. 

‘[The shopkeeper] said it’s marijuana pot and three pieces was an adult side serving. So by that point, he had consumed about a third of the package, which is about 30 to 40 pieces they estimated in the hospital. So he essentially had like 13 times the dose for an adult and he’s like a 40-pound 6-year-old.

‘I felt like it was such a crazy series of events, but it could happen to somebody else,’ Buttereit said, keen to warn other unsuspecting parents. 

‘I completely accept my negligence as a parent. I made the mistake of not reading the package and I’m dealing with those consequences. But it was 50-50 negligence. That product was not in its proper storage place.’

A spokesperson for the Common Market restaurant in the South End neighborhood, where Buttereit had bought the adults-only candy, say they have now improved the signage around the products as a precaution.

The store, which describes itself as an ‘uncommon convenience store, deli and bar’ say the usual policy is for the products to be kept in a case or behind the counter. 

The National Poison Data System (NPDS), which collects data for the 55 US poison centers, has recorded a sharp rise in the number of cases of minors eating edible pot to more than 3,000 cases per year

The National Poison Data System (NPDS), which collects data for the 55 US poison centers, has recorded a sharp rise in the number of cases of minors eating edible pot to more than 3,000 cases per year

Last year, pediatrician based in Portland, Oregon warned parents to keep cannabis edibles out of reach of children – following recent data showing 7,000 children under six had eaten them between 2017 and 2021.

Though many of the children experienced only minor symptoms, like excessive sleepiness, researchers say nearly a quarter ended up in hospital and warn about the emergence of a new household safety hazard. 

‘Unintentional cannabis exposures in young children are increasing rapidly,’ warned the researchers

‘These exposures can cause significant toxicity and are responsible for an increasing number of hospitalizations.’

Dr Beth Ebel of the University of Washington told Yahoo News: ‘We are seeing this all day long.

‘My emergency department friends see kids coming in and they are trying to decide, does this child have bleeding in her brain or a brain tumor? Or is this a child who really has a low level of consciousness because they have ingested something.

Teenagers are lured by colorfully-packaged candy-like products that leave them vulnerable to higher rates of dependency, psychosis and school dropouts, researchers warn. Pictured: child-friendly cannabis gummy packaging on illegal products

Teenagers are lured by colorfully-packaged candy-like products that leave them vulnerable to higher rates of dependency, psychosis and school dropouts, researchers warn. Pictured: child-friendly cannabis gummy packaging

He added that the risks to childrens’ health could be ‘irreversible. 

‘One of the very concerning things is that these high potency products have a strong association with schizophrenia and a psychotic break. 

‘I’ve seen kids in the hospital who’ve been using some of these higher potency products: young kids doing great in school, and they come to [Harborview Medical Center] after a psychotic break. 

‘Sometimes this is a lifelong onset of schizophrenia, and it can be precipitated by these potent products.’

Recreational use of cannabis is legal in 24 US states, with Ohio the latest to green-light the drug in November 2023.

North Carolina

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