As marijuana becomes more popular in states that have legalized it, so have the number of ways people use the drug. A stronger, potentially habit-forming version called dabs is easy for teens to get and hide. In addition, marijuana is being added to foods. Both dabs and food with marijuana put kids at risk for an overdose. Plus, they may be illegal in your state.


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not support recreational or medicinal sale of marijuana. The active ingredient, THC, causes a person to feel high or intoxicated. Eating or inhaling marijuana products can lead to panic attacks, hallucinations and delirium. Falls from buildings and suicides have been reported after children have been exposed to high concentrations of THC.

Many parents are not aware that dabs are easily available to teens in states where they are legal, according to a report in the AAP journal, Pediatrics. The waxy, oily substance is made from the cannabis plant. One dab contains about 20% to 25% THC. The concentration of THC in marijuana usually is 3% to 6%.

Dabs are made by packing marijuana pieces and stems into a narrow tube. Flammable butane is forced through the tube, and the resin is collected. The product also is known by nicknames, including butane hash oil, shatter, wax, honeycomb and budder.

People inhale the concentrated substance using a water pipe that is heated with a blow torch or an e-cigarette device. It also can be eaten. Teens often hide it in lip balm containers.

Marijuana foods are sold legally in some states. Products that may appeal to children include gummies, honey sticks, brownies and drinks. These foods can cause a THC overdose. For example, one type of chocolate bar contains 180 milligrams (mg) of THC. One dose of THC is 10 mg.

The AAP offers the following guidance to parents:

  • Do not use marijuana products. If you do, do not use them in front of children.

  • Keep all marijuana products out of children’s reach in childproof packaging.

  • If you suspect your child has overdosed on a marijuana product, dial 911.

© 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.