A new study revealed that ER visits linked to cannabis have tripled in Colorado following legalization in 2012, suggesting that users may be ingesting unsafe levels due to the delayed effects of cannabis edibles.
The study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, examined 10,000 patients at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital from 2012 to 2016 and found that people who consumed cannabis edibles were more likely to end up in the emergency room with severe panic attacks or other sudden mental disorders than those who inhaled marijuana. Interestingly, patients who inhaled marijuana accounted for a higher rate of hospitalizations, mainly due to a severe vomiting condition associated with heavy cannabis use called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
Over-Consumption of Cannabis Edibles Likely the Culprit
The lead author of the study and associate professor of emergency medicine and emergency toxicology at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine, Dr. Andrew Monte, explained that “acute psychiatric visits like acute panic attacks, acute psychosis, and acute-on-chronic conditions such as acute exacerbations of schizophrenia were also much more commonly associated with cannabis edibles.”
He believes that people who are consuming cannabis edibles are ingesting unsafe levels because they don’t lead to an immediate high, as it can take two to three hours to feel the effects of edible cannabis products.
Study Doesn’t Provide the Whole Picture on Cannabis Edibles
The study has some major limitations, though, as it is observational and only includes data from one hospital, meaning it is unclear if this is a larger trend. Despite this, researchers believe concerns regarding marijuana’s link to psychiatric ER visits should be taken seriously.
The study doesn’t prove that the use of cannabis edibles containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the exact cause of psychosis, psychiatric symptoms or some other illnesses, with prior research indicating that people predisposed to psychosis or other psychiatric disorders may be at higher risk for adverse events following cannabis consumption.
Doctors caution that claiming a cause-and-effect between cannabis use and the onset of psychosis may be an exaggeration, although it shouldn’t be ruled out.
The cannabis edibles market is growing, with edibles spending in Canada and the US reaching $1 billion in 2017 and projected to increase to $4.1 billion by 2020, according to a report by Arcview Market Research.
Featured Image: Flickr