Talk to anyone who recently started experimenting with marijuana long enough, and eventually you’ll hit on the subject of edibles. Most everyone has at least one negative experience with edibles and it’s almost always for the same reasons—because you didn’t realize how much you ate, or you didn’t wait long enough for the effects to kick in before eating more. That, obviously, can cause problems.
Such observations fall in line with recent research out of Denver, which found that cannabis-related emergency room visits increased threefold after recreational marijuana was legalized. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers studied the records of 9,973 patients who visited the University of Colorado Hospital emergency department between 2012 and 2016. They found that ER trips related to edibles increased 33 times from the previous amount prior to legalization.
The study was in part inspired by the doctors’ own experiences, as they noticed “there were a lot of visits associated with edibles, even though they were not the predominant product used, and they seemed to be sicker compared to those who inhaled,” said Dr. Andrew Monte, the lead author of the study.
What’s interesting is the percentage of cannabis-related ER visits related to edibles and how much edibles constitute the sales of cannabis-related products sold in Colorado. From 2014 to 2016, edibles made up 0.32% of sales in Colorado while 10.7% UCHealth University of Colorado cannabis-related ER visits were due to edibles. Those who wind up in the hospital due to edibles report intoxication, anxiety, psychosis, cardiovascular symptoms, and acute panic attacks. These findings have made Monte reconsider his views on the sales of marijuana edibles.
“While I’m a supporter of cannabis liberalization policy in general, having seen these data, and my own clinical experiences, I don’t think it should be available for recreational purposes,” he told Inverse.
The researchers were also clear in the limitations of their observational study. First is that patients who go to the emergency room “differ from the overall population of cannabis users, most of whom may use cannabis with no adverse effects.” Also, there was no way for them to know how much quantifiable THC or CBD was in the edibles taken by patients prior to their arrival.