A new study released yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the rise in marijuana use in Colorado since the state legalized the drug has led to increased emergency room visits. The study found that 9,973 marijuana-related emergency room visits occurred from 2012-2016, more than triple the number that occurred prior to legalization. Additionally, the study found that 10.7% of visits at UCHealth were due to the ingestion of high potency marijuana edibles.
“Evidence continues to build the case that marijuana legalization results in harmful impacts on public health and safety,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “Marijuana is no longer the weed of Woodstock. The industry is churning out new, highly potent candies, gummies, sodas, and ice creams as well as concentrates and vape pens that contain up to 99% THC. These kid-friendly products are regularly getting into the hands of children, whose developing brains are incredibly susceptible to permanent damage from this highly potent pot.”
The study found that 17% of emergency room visits were due to uncontrolled vomiting that was associated with the smoked form of the drug. Previous research has labeled this phenomenon as “scromiting,” or Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. 12% of the visits were for acute psychosis and this was associated with high potency edibles. 8% of visits were associated with cardiovascular issues such as irregular heartbeat or even heart attacks after ingestion of edibles.
Another recent study found that the use of high potency edibles was directly linked with increases in severe mental illness, such as psychosis, and stated that if higher potency concentrates and edibles were removed from the market, instances of psychosis would be reduced by a third.
“Lawmakers rushing to legalize marijuana need to slow down and consider the implications it could bring upon their state,” continued Dr. Sabet. “They are certainly not receiving information such as this from the pot industry’s army of lobbyists. This is why organizations such as SAM are so important. We work tirelessly to combat the industry narrative that marijuana is harmless.