The number of emergency-room visits linked to cannabis in one hospital in the first US state to completely legalise its use tripled within a few years, according to a study that points to the dangers of ingesting the drug.
Colorado legalised marijuana for recreational use in 2014, the first state to do so, making the study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine particularly noteworthy. Nine other states have now legalised cannabis for recreational use, while 34 of the 50 allow its medical use.
Researchers analysed a half-million emergency-department visits at the University of Colorado hospital in Aurora from 2012 to 2016, of which roughly 2,500 were at least partially attributed to marijuana consumption.
The number of such visits has increased yearly, from less than 250 in 2012 to more than 750 in 2016.
While more than 90 per cent of the visits were related to inhalation of the drug, the rest were linked to edible cannabis, whether in cookies, candy or any of the other food forms that have been used to ingest THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the plant's main psychoactive ingredient.
Andrew Monte, a professor of emergency medicine and the study's principal author, said the tripling in total emergency-room visits was not altogether surprising.