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After legalization, ER visits linked to marijuana increase in Colorado hospitals

After legalization, ER visits linked to marijuana increase in Colorado hospitals

Followed by the legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012, the number of emergency room (ER) visits associated with cannabis use tripled over the course of 5 years at one of the biggest hospitals in the state, claimed an analysis published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Compared to inhaling or smoking cannabis products, it was found that people who consumed edibles were frequently visiting the psychiatric ER.

From 2012 to 2016, the researchers investigated approximately 10,000 patients enrolled with UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital (UCH). Even though the sale of marijuana edibles was lower than that of the inhaled products, people consuming marijuana in the form of food or candies were more likely to visit the ER with complaints of sudden mental health disorders or severe panic attacks. On the other hand, a greater number of hospitalizations were reported due to heavy cannabis intake resulting in a serious vomiting condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.

People tend to consume cannabis edibles in large amounts

Consumption of edible marijuana products accounted for nearly 10 percent of the cannabis-associated ED visits, however, the sale for edible products was only 0.32 percent of the total cannabis sales, which was 33 times higher than the expectation, said Dr. Andrew Monte, leading author of the research paper. The use of cannabis edibles was associated with the onset of acute psychosis, severe panic attacks, and schizophrenia.

Dr. Monte hypothesized that since people consuming marijuana edibles did not get an immediate high, they consumed unsafe levels. It takes at least 2 to 3 hours for the effects of cannabis edibles to manifest, therefore, before re-dosing with a higher amount of the same drug, enough time should be given. Some people tend to over-indulge in pursuit of an immediate effect giving rise to adverse outcomes.

Additional research needed to establish link between edible marijuana and adverse psychiatric events

The market for cannabis edibles is expanding. The spending on edibles in Canada and the U.S. reached $1 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow to $4.1 billion by 2022, as per a report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. According to the experts there is a need for more research to investigate if edible marijuana is directly associated with adverse psychiatric events.

One of the major drawbacks of the present study is that it is observational, that is, it fails to establish if the use of marijuana edibles is directly linked to psychosis or results in worsening of psychiatric symptoms or some other disorder. Previous research has indicated that people susceptible to psychosis or other psychiatric disorders maybe at a heightened risk of adverse outcomes subsequent to cannabis exposure.

Limitations of study

Dr. Amir Englund, a post-doctoral researcher in psychopharmacology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, at King’s College London stated that studies like this are not able to firmly establish if using potent forms of cannabis or edibles results in psychosis or conditions that puts patients in the ER. One of the other limitations of the study is that it followed people from only one hospital, therefore, it is difficult to say if it is a wider trend.

Nevertheless, the apprehensions concerning marijuana’s link to psychiatric ER admissions should be taken seriously. The consumers should use marijuana in moderation and a low dose of the product if they are not familiar with it. Besides, they should also avoid risky behavior like driving after cannabis use. Those using edibles should use a lower dose and must not re-dose for a couple of hours.

Road to recovery

With more and more states legalizing marijuana, the number of cannabis users has gone up substantially. While its medical properties have not been proved, the federal government still refers to it as illegal and has placed in under the drug schedule as a Schedule I drug.

The treatment for any addiction starts with a detox. If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to marijuana and is looking for reliable detox treatment centers Colorado, get in touch with the Colorado Detox Helpline. We can connect you with drug detox treatment centers in Colorado that offer comprehensive evidence-based detox treatment plans for marijuana abuse. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-730-5807 or chat online with our representative for more information.

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