Carroll Report State's Attorney

Carroll County State’s Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Offices Collaborate on Alerting Parents of the Danger of Child Overdoses

Carroll County State’s Attorney, Haven N. Shoemaker, Jr., and Sheriff James DeWees, announce a campaign to notify the residents of Carroll County that children in the County are overdosing on drugs left out by parents.

Westminster, Maryland – On October 16, 2023, the State’s Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office will unveil a billboard as part of a program to educate parents on the danger of children overdosing.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, unintentional pediatric poisoning deaths spiked 37 percent in 2021, with 59 children under five years old losing their lives after gaining access to prescribed or illicit drugs. A large percentage of children overdosing on drugs are overdosing on legally possessed drugs that are left in common areas where they are easily obtained by children.  In Carroll County alone this year there already have been 23 juvenile overdoses.  With the legalization of cannabis in jurisdictions like Maryland, edible cannabis ingestions by children are on the rise. In 2017, there were 207 reported cases of accidental edible cannabis exposure among kids under the age of 6. By 2021, there were 3,054, according to a study recently published in the journal Pediatrics. Overall, there were more than 7,040 exposures to edible cannabis in kids under 6 between 2017 and 2021, according to an analysis of records from the National Poison Data System, a central repository for data from America’s Poison Centers.

Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees remarked, “It’s very scary that edibles can look like and are packaged similarly to candy and chips, especially those available on the black market, and some of them look nearly identical to the real thing. There are knockoff Doritos, Cheetos, Nerds Rope and Gushers candy.”

The billboard is digital and is located on the eastbound side of Route 140, two miles east of Westminster.  The billboard carries the message “Lock up your meds!  Legal doesn’t mean safe.”  The purpose of the message is to remind parents that prescription and recreational drugs can be extremely dangerous in the hands of children.  Parents should make sure that any drugs located in a home are kept in a secured area out of the reach of children.  Unfortunately, with the legalization of marijuana there is a concern that there will be an increase in child overdoses.

“The numbers don’t lie,” remarked Carroll County State’s Attorney Haven Shoemaker, “in just 5 years the number of small children accidentally poisoned by cannabis edibles has soared 1375% – we have already had several incidences in Carroll – including a 3-year-old who was hospitalized due to eating pot gummies.”

Sheriff DeWees and State’s Attorney Shoemaker urge parents to be vigilant and responsible and to: “Lock up your meds!  Legal doesn’t mean safe.” 

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