Apr 14, 2016 9:40 AM

Study on Medical Marijuana States: Tourists With Weed-Related Issues Visit Colorado ERs More Often Than Locals

According to the official study, from 2013 to 2014, the number of cannabis-related visits to the emergency room of the University of Colorado Hospital by tourists doubled, while the number of local patients did not change. The so-called “tourists” are people who come to Colorado from outside the state.

According to Andrew Monte, assistant professor of emergency medicine and toxicology at the CU School of Medicine, cannabis use is not proven to be the reason for the visits.

In 2013, there were only 85 non-local visitors with cannabis-related complaints at the University of Colorado Hospital per 10,000. In 2014, the number of such visitors came to 168 per 10,000. In that particular year, Colorado witnessed the beginning of retail cannabis sales. According to the statistics, the number of such cases with the state residents did not profoundly alter and came to 112 per 10,000 in 2014, while there had been 106 occurrences per 10,000 in 2013.

The visitors of the ER had several complaints. The most common ones were gastrointestinal, psychiatric, and cardiopulmonary problems. According to Andrew Monte, cannabis use might have worsened the medical condition that had already existed and became the reason for such cases.

Mason Tvert, an American marijuana advocate, founder of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, and current communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project in Colorado, stated that if one gets a new angle on this situation, they will notice that the main difference between cannabis-consuming visitors of the state and cannabis-consuming residents of the state is the altitude acclimation. The tourists are not used to Colorado’s higher altitude, which can easily cause a range of symptoms, like nausea and dizziness. It helps to remember that not all non-local guests visited Colorado to enjoy legal marijuana. Many of them came there for business and other issues.

According to Mike Van Dyke, a representative of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, another important reason for these cases may also be people’s behavior and actions. Some of the visitors may go way overboard when they are not at home.

The number of visitors to the ER statewide was also analyzed in the study. These numbers had also grown. The number of Colorado guests with cannabis-related symptoms was 78 per 10,000 in 2012, 112 per 10,000 in 2013, and 163 per 10,000 in 2014. At the same time, the number of Colorado residents with the same issues was 70 per 10,000 in 2012, 86 per 10,000 in 2013, and 101 per 10,000 in 2014.

Andrew Monte is sure that all marijuana buyers should be consulted at dispensaries and know that local cannabis has a higher THC concentration. The visitors should also draw special attention to the weed-infused edibles that start to affect later and stay in the system longer than weed that is smoked. Monte says that everybody should not forget that if a person has some deep-seated disease, it may emerge in full force under the influence of cannabis.

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