Marijuana-Related ER Visits are up in Colorado, but the Plant Isn’t to Blame

weed rolling

Marijuana may help heal a lot – epilepsy, cancer, migraines, depression, and the list just keeps growing. But it’s not perfect. Using marijuana can mar your judgement, or so suggests the results of a recent study which found people who visit Colorado to partake in a little ganja wind up in emergency rooms more often than Coloradans.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the number of out-of-staters who wound up in Colorado ERs after using marijuana doubled from 2013 to 2014, the year marijuana was legalized in the state. That number remained steady for Colorado residents.

But Andrew Monte, assistant professor of emergency medicine and toxicology at the Colorado University School of Medicine, says “not so fast.” The most common conditions that brought pot newbies to the ER were gastrointestinal distress, psychiatric issues, and cardiopulmonary problems, in that order – all conditions that can be exacerbated by marijuana use.

Read: Cannabis Takes on Alzheimer’s and Dementia Successfully – Story and Studies

Monte says you can’t deduce from the study’s findings that marijuana itself actually caused the increase in ER visits:

“Realistically, these visits could have marijuana mentioned at one point if they came and had a heart attack and said they did smoke a week ago, that would be reflected.”

Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, took that explanation even a step further, blaming location, not weed, for the uptick in cases:

“The number one difference between someone visiting and using marijuana and someone who lives here and using marijuana is that the person visiting has just gone to a much higher altitude and we know that’s attributed to a bunch of symptoms like passing out and nausea.”

Source: UK National Drug Prevention Alliance

And just in case you’ve forgotten, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose, ever.

In fact, decriminalization has done great things for the state of Colorado. Crime rates fell after pot was legalized, smashing the stereotype that cannabis users are social pariahs who stand on corners getting little children addicted to drugs, or robbing people on the streets to get their fix.

In January 2014 alone, legal marijuana sales brought in $3.5 million in tax revenue for the state, and created 10,000 new jobs.



The Denver Post

UK National Drug Prevention Alliance