AURORA – A new study shows the symptoms of consuming edibles are more severe than those tied to smoking marijuana.
UCHealth and the University of Colorado Boulder conducted the survey, which was released in the Annals of Internal Medicine Monday, after studying emergency room data from the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.
Dr. Andrew Monte, who works as an associate professor at the school and an emergency medicine and toxicology specialist at the hospital, led the study.
It examined nearly 10,000 emergency room records between 2012 and 2016, which rose significantly after the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Doctors determined that marijuana symptoms were involved in a quarter of those emergency room visits, and the effects associated with the type of consumption drew the most attention.
“We found that inhaled cannabis attributable visits were more frequent. However, cannabis edible visits were much more frequent than we expected,” Monte said.
In particular, edibles may be more harmful than previously thought when studying the symptoms. Monte said he believes the delayed high may be to blame.
“When somebody ingests a cannabis edible product, it doesn’t even start to work for about 30 minutes, peaks at two to three hours, and can last for up to 12 hours. This is a problem,” Monte said.
For marijuana smokers — who were the most frequent emergency room visitors — the symptoms included nausea and vomiting, which are associated with a rare condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
The effects on edible users, though, were much worse.
“Edibles have a much higher rate of people getting acute psychiatric diseases, such as psychosis and acute panic attacks,” Monte said.
And while the edible-related emergency room trips weren’t as frequent, Monte said the rate at which they happened was still alarming. Comparing it to edible sales across the state, he said the number of edible cases was 33 times higher than expected.
Additionally, tourists and other visitors are cause for concern due to their potential unfamiliarity with marijuana, Monte said.
“In general, we recommend start low and go slow,” he said.