Out-of-towners using marijuana in Colorado are ending up in the emergency room at an increasing rate, according to a study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Ms. Katelyn Hall, a current PhD student in epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz Medical Campus, works as a statistical analyst at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and was co-investigator on the study. Her role was to analyze the statewide rates of marijuana-related emergency department visits in Colorado.
Out-of-state visitors to the emergency room for marijuana-related symptoms accounted for 78 per 10,000 emergency room visits in 2012 compared to 163 per 10,000 visits in 2014 — an increase of 109 percent. Among Colorado residents, the number of marijuana-related visits was 70 per 10,000 in 2012 compared to 101 per 10,000 in 2014, a 44 percent increase. The research took place in the emergency department at the University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado.
Although the investigators did not study if visitors to the emergency room used primarily edible or smoked cannabis products, edible products such as cookies or brownies often have a delayed effect, which could lead to overdosing.
The findings have implications for other states in which recreational marijuana is legal, such as Alaska, Oregon, and Washington.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine print issue on February 25.