Out-of-towners using marijuana in Colorado are at a higher risk to end up in the emergency room, according to a new study.
When marijuana was legalized in Colorado, critics argued that we would be seeing an increased in injuries, accidents and hospitalizations caused by the drug. Well, this hasn’t really been the case, at least for locals. For visitors however, things seem to be a bit different.
“Emergency room visits related to cannabis use have increased more dramatically among out-of-state visitors than among Colorado residents,” said lead investigator Dr. Howard Kim, a postdoctoral fellow in emergency medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an emergency medicine physician at Northwestern Medicine. “This may indicate that out-of-state visitors are unprepared for the adverse effects of marijuana use.”
The adverse effects of marijuana are pretty mild, but they can be disturbing to someone that’s unprepared. Temporary anxiety, hallucinations and altered mental status are no laughing matter. Although researchers didn’t document how people in the ER consumed the cannabis, they believe edible products are much more to blame than cigarettes, due to their delayed effect.
“People eating marijuana products often don’t feel any effect immediately, leading them to eat another edible,” Kim said. “Then they’ve ingested multiple products, so when the effect finally kicks in, it is much stronger.”
Out-of-state visitors to the emergency room for marijuana-related symptoms accounted for 78 per 10,000 emergency room visits in 2012 compared to 163 per 10,000 visits in 2014 — an increase of 109 percent.
All in all, even though the risks are not high (heh) people should be aware of them. What should be a simple business or pleasure trip can turn into a disaster.
“Everyone needs to be aware of the side effects of marijuana use,” said senior author Dr. Andrew Monte, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “These results underscore the importance of educating the public and especially any visitors to marijuana-legal states on safe and appropriate use of cannabis products.”
Researchers would now like to study how the same situation translates to other cities in a similar situation.