Emergency room visits increased due to edible cannabis

Created date

June 27th, 2019
Two chocolate brownies, covered with chopped walnuts, sit next to a pile of dried cannabis flowers.

Two chocolate brownies, covered with chopped walnuts, sit next to a pile of dried cannabis flowers.

Cannabis has been legal in Colorado for several years, but some negative effects of the edible form of the drug appear to be more common than originally anticipated.

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine examined medical records of patients who came to the emergency room at the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital to compare visits associated with inhaled versus edible forms of cannabis.  

Inhaled vs. edible

From 2012 to 2016, almost 25% of 9,973 patients had a diagnosis that was at least partially related to cannabis use. The most common symptom among patients who used the inhaled form of the drug was excessive vomiting, and users of edible cannabis tended to experience psychiatric problems, intoxication, and cardiovascular symptoms. 

When the researchers analyzed the data, they found that the proportion of emergency room visits attributable to edible cannabis was about 33 times higher than expected. 

The researchers say the results suggest that edible forms of cannabis may be more toxic than originally thought, and because it digests very slowly, users may ingest too much in an attempt to achieve desired effects. 

Authors from the National Institute on Drug Abuse issued an editorial suggesting that more research needs to be conducted on the chemical contents of all form of cannabis, and that there should be greater oversight of quality, manufacturing practices, and other standards related to cannabis products marketed to the general public.