Marijuana ER visits climb in Denver hospital study

Marijuana ER visits climb in Denver hospital study

Marijuana ER visits climb in Denver hospital study

Colorado legalised marijuana for recreational use in 2014, the first state to do so, making the study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine particularly noteworthy.

Compared to inhaled marijuana, the proportion of edible marijuana-related visits was about 33 times higher than expected, the study authors said. "Acute-on-chronic conditions such as acute exacerbations of schizophrenia were also much more commonly associated with cannabis edibles".

Monte and his team found that though just 0.3 percent of total cannabis sales in Colorado in terms of weight were edibles, edible-related emergency visits accounted for 10.7 percent of total visits at UCHealth.

While more than 90% of the visits were related to inhalation of the drug, the rest were linked to edible cannabis, whether in cookies, candy or any of the other food forms that have been used to ingest THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the plant's main psychoactive ingredient.

The researchers noted that edible users can have a hard time figuring which dosages to take because of the differences in the way THC is processed in the body between edibles and inhalants, as well as differences in how different people process the active chemical in cannabis.

While these numbers aren't great and show that there is still room to educate people on best practices for consuming recreational cannabis, the researchers who put the data together say the real shocker is in the details.

"So some users over-consume edible cannabis products, resulting in adverse effects", said Monte.

In many ways, Colorado has proven that a legal and regulated cannabis market can be hugely profitable while keeping drugs out of the hands of minors when coupled with a strong educational program.

As the industry grows, more research needs to be done to see if edible marijuana use is a direct cause of negative psychiatric events, experts say. "We urge consumers to use cannabis in moderation, use low doses if unfamiliar with a products, and avoid riskier behaviors such as driving after using cannabis".

Another limitation is that the study only looked at one hospital, so it's unclear whether this is a larger trend.

If Colorado is any indication, the legalization of marijuana comes with a downside.

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