Although inhaled cannabis leads to more visits overall, the new research suggests that foods – containing cannabis extract – make more visits to psychiatric and cardiovascular symptoms.
Research has shed light on increasing safety concerns over cannabis. The researchers identified 9,973 emergency cannabis visits at UCHealth University, Colorado, from 2012 to 2016, tripling those visits.
The author of the lead study, dr. Andrew A. Monte, a medical toxicologist and emergency medical specialist at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and his colleagues, was motivated by their own experiences. "We've seen more visits to edibles than expected, and there's no data to see if this is indeed the case," he said.
For the study published on Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers also examined the relationship between cannabis sales reported to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division and visits to the emergency department. Although edible cannabis in Colorado accounted for only 0.32% of sales between 201
4 and 2016, 10.7% of visits to the cannabis emergency department at UCHealth University in Colorado were due to edible.
"Cannabis food, but no documented death from inhaled cannabis," said Monte. The study found that in 2015, a man died in Colorado, who died of suicide after consuming an edible marijuana product.
The researchers note that the study has had some limitations, including that patients who go to the emergency room "are different from the general population of cannabis users, most of whom can use cannabis without side effects." In addition, there was often no way to quantify accurate doses of cannabis, and researchers suggest that the doses taken may have exceeded inhaled doses.
With the liberalization of cannabis laws in some countries, more education of patients about the effects of different forms of cannabis on health is needed. "Edible marijuana can be very different and the effect can last much longer," said Dr. G. Sam Wang, Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Toxicologist at Children's Hospital Colorado, who was not involved in the new study.