Sharp Increase in Marijuana-Related ED Visits in Colorado by Non-Residents After Recreational Legalization — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
February 26, 2016

Sharp Increase in Marijuana-Related ED Visits in Colorado by Non-Residents After Recreational Legalization

By Cara Adler

Edited by André Sofair, MD, MPH, and William E. Chavey, MD, MS

Marijuana-related emergency department visits increased more steeply among non-Colorado residents ("marijuana tourists") than among residents after retail sales of recreational marijuana began, according to a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.

At a Colorado hospital, rates of ED visits possibly related to cannabis use increased significantly among non-residents between 2013 and 2014 (rate ratio, 1.98), but not among residents. Statewide hospital data showed similar results for non-residents (RR, 1.46) and a smaller but significant rise for residents (RR, 1.17).

In a separate review in Annals of Emergency Medicine, the authors note that supportive care is the primary management for acute marijuana intoxication, and most adult patients can be discharged after symptoms improve. They caution that intoxication from ingesting edible marijuana products can cause severe symptoms, particularly in children.

Dr. Ali Raja of NEJM Journal Watch Emergency Medicine comments, "Clinicians throughout the country, especially those who practice in states where marijuana is now legal, should be prepared for the severity of symptoms and emphasize to their patients that regardless of legality, it is a drug with significant untoward, and for edibles, unpredictable side effects."

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