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Greater use of pots to send more people to the Colorado hospital

Photo: Brennan Linsley (AP)

Reefer madness is not a deal. But a new study on Tuesday is the latest to show that the use of pots, especially in food, can sometimes cause health problems that are serious enough to encourage a trip to the hospital. It turned out that people in Colorado were increasingly looking for emergency care for cannabis-related symptoms such as anxiety, fast heartbeat, and a weird syndrome characterized by intense vomiting since recreational cannabis was legalized in the state.

Colorado passed a change to fully legalize cannabis in 2012 and began selling it in 2014. Researchers behind the study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, reviewed the medical records of patients who visited the emergency department at the UCHealth University Hospital in Colorado from 2012 to 2016. All of these visits were originally diagnosed in the context of cannabis use, with nearly 10,000 such visits documented between those years.

Cannabis visits were more than tripled during this period. About a quarter of these visits (27 percent) could be directly attributed to the use of cannabis, they also estimate. And while people were smoked out of the pot more often, pot foods were more of a problem.

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Potential Edible Can Send Some People to the Hospital

It is safe to say that the danger of cannabis has long been affected by moral crusaders …

Read more Read [19659008] was overhyped: "About 10 percent of ED visits related to cannabis were associated with ED edible weeds, but only 0.32 percent of total cannabis sales were accounted for by edible products," said the lead author Andrew Monte, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Emergency Toxicology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, told NBC News. "That's 33 times what we expected."

Even foods seemed to cause more serious side effects. Eighteen percent of food-related visits showed acute psychiatric symptoms – including panic attacks or seizures – compared to 10 percent of inhaled cannabis visits. Foods were also more commonly associated with intoxications (48 percent vs. 28 percent for inhalation pot) and cardiovascular symptoms (8.0 percent vs. 3.1 percent).

At the same time, the smoking pot was associated with a higher rate of hospitalization because of their symptoms. One main reason was the increased incidence of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), a condition that causes horrible stomach pain, repeated vomiting, and the need for hot showers (people say the hot water soothes their symptoms).

Findings were based on visits to a single, albeit large, Colorado hospital. We do not know yet that visiting ER deposits is everywhere where cannabis is legalized. Nor can the observational nature of the study tell us whether a person's symptoms, including psychosis, were actually caused by cannabis use, except that the two things are related. It has been repeatedly explored whether people with a predisposition to mental illness such as schizophrenia with cannabis more often develop psychiatric symptoms. That said, it is definitely true that most people who consume cannabis will never do the ER as a result. In particular, CHS is believed to be unbelievably rare and appears to occur only in people who consume heavily cannabis, and the frightening symptoms disappear as soon as the person stops consuming cannabis.

However, the results indicate that people are unfamiliar with the food "It can take hours to get fully involved, they can take more than they should and make them sick," the authors said. They added that more needs to be done to investigate the potential harm of food and cannabis in general, including the link to mental health problems.

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