SOUTH CAROLINA (WSAV) — Marijuana and THC edibles are now a multi-billion dollar business, with profits only going up.

But with their popularity soaring, something else is on the rise: a dangerous trend among kids.

Marijuana is illegal to buy, use or sell in South Carolina and Georgia. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people smoking it or ingesting it in the form of edibles.

Experts say edible marijuana products brought in close to $4 billion in sales in the United States last year alone. That number could rise to $6 billion by 2025.

According to a new study and Lowcountry doctors, the people buying these products aren’t protecting them from kids.

“There’s nothing about it to a child gives any indication that it’s something that he should not consume,” said Elizabeth Perry said. Perry’s son ended up in the hospital after he got ahold of the THC gummies she was using to help her sleep.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of kids 5 and under ingesting the dangerous chemicals in the last five years has gone up 1375%.

Many of those kids are ending up in emergency rooms like at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

“I can tell you over the past couple of years it’s been over a dozen young children we have seen,” said Christopher Pruitt medical director of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital Emergency Department. “Off the top of my head, I can think of two in the past couple of weeks.”

With its bright packaging and titles that make you think it’s candy or sugar cereal, kids can be drawn to the cannabis products, with dangerous results.

“Young children are exposed to them which actually leads to central nervous system depression. Like a lethargic state. A state of minimal to no responsiveness,” Pruitt explained.

Among the 7,000 cases found in the research, 90% of these situations happen inside their own home and the largest number of cases researchers say were among two and 3-year-olds. More than 22% ended up in the hospital.

Cannabis edibles are designed for much bigger bodies. Pruitt said that in his experience, the smaller the child, the larger the risk.

“We see it some in older kids, but they’re more likely to have a reaction like a young adult versus a younger kid,” Pruitt said. “Little kids can end up unresponsive.”

Unresponsive can mean the child has trouble breathing. Kids may also feel dizzy, have trouble walking, act confused and have a rapid heart rate. In severe cases, they may suffer from hallucinations, a slowed heart rate, and low blood pressure.

“They appear excessively sleepy or difficult to arouse. Very quickly parents or caretakers see there is something wrong with their child,” Pruitt said. “You have to support the child’s body and natural physiology until their body can clear whatever toxin or chemical they are dealing with.”

Doctors say to get your child medical help right away. Waiting can be dangerous.

“They shouldn’t wait and watch, because kids can change and things can change. You either want to bring them immediately to medical care or contact a medical professional,” says Pruitt. “You can always call the National Poison Center. That number is 800-222-1222. The National Poison Center can advise you as to what you should do, and whether you need to seek medical care. And they’re pretty good about communicating with local emergency departments to let us know that kids might be coming in.”

The good news is that researchers found no cases of a child dying after consuming cannabis edibles in the time they looked at.

There are simple steps to take, keep an edible on a high shelf, or in a locked cabinet or compartment. Don’t mix it with other candy.

While law enforcement tells me they have seen a rise in edibles among people arrested for drug possession or trafficking, unlike Charleston, hospitals in Hilton Head, Hardeeville, and Beaufort have not seen an influx of young patients.

If it’s your child that ends up in the hospital after ingesting marijuana you could pay the price too.

By law, doctors have to notify investigators. You could be charged with unlawful conduct towards a child, which is a felony and carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail.

There is also a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to children which carries a 30-day penalty.

If you buy other legal hemp products, like Delta 8 or Delta 9, it is still against the law to give to a child and felony or misdemeanor charges are still in play.