Hospital study uncovers spike in marijuana-related emergency room visits

An assessment of one Colorado hospital’s emergency room revealed that marijuana-related visits increased three-fold since the state permitted the recreational sale of cannabis in January 2014.

Published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine revealed that, in 2012, the emergency department at the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital saw an average of one patient every other day with a marijuana-related issue. By 2016, the number had climbed to two to three patients a day, according to The Denver Post.

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Colorado Amendment 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, was passed in November 2012 and implemented in January 2014. For their study, researchers assessed the 9,973 patients who visited the emergency room at the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital between January 2012 and December 2016.

According to the outlet, the study’s authors wrote that 17 percent of marijuana-users who were hospitalized experienced uncontrolled vomiting and 12 percent suffered acute psychosis. Intoxication, gastrointestinal and heart issues were also common among emergency room patients assessed in the state-funded study.

Not only did the study’s authors uncover an increase in marijuana-related hospital visits, but they also found that edible users are more likely to go to the emergency room than their marijuana-smoking counterparts. While edibles only accounted for .32 percent of cannabis sales in the four-year observation period, edible-users made up 10.7 percent of marijuana-linked emergency room visits.

“Part of the issue (with edibles) is that the onset is delayed and the peak effect is delayed,” study co-author Dr. Andrew Monte, an associate professor of emergency medicine at CU’s School of Medicine, told The Post.“

Dr. Monte inferred that edible-users have a tendency to ingest more doses when they don’t experience immediate effects. He also noted that edible-users who went to the ER were more likely to do so for acute psychiatric issues.

Full Study: “Acute Illness Associated With Cannabis Use, by Route of Exposure: An Observational Study.

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[Featured image: Pixabay]