Marijuana Tourists’ Emergency Room Visits


When it comes to which mind altering substances carry the greatest health risk it is probably fair to say that most Americans would agree that marijuana is at the bottom of the list – as is evident by the continued lightening of restrictions when it comes to the use of cannabis. In the last 20 years, since California became the first state to legalize the use of medical marijuana, more and more states have hopped on the “green train,” medical marijuana is now legal in 24 states and Washington D.C. Four of those states and Washington, D.C. have also legalized adult recreational use, with more states expected to follow suit this November.

The State of Colorado is one of the four states that have legalized adult cannabis use, and in 2014 sale began throughout the state. Legalization, like one might expect, has brought about a surge in marijuana tourism, that is people who would like to walk into a store and buy marijuana, just like one would by a six-pack of beer. The novel experience is a not without risk, a new report has shown a spike in emergency room visits involving out-of-state visitors experiencing marijuana-related medical problems, HealthDay reports. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of marijuana tourists visiting the University of Colorado Hospital emergency room doubled, according to a research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“People in Colorado are becoming more experienced with use of these products,” said study co-author Dr. Andrew Monte, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora. “Sometimes visitors to the state, it’s more difficult to get the educational information in their hands. They may be less experienced with the particular products in the state. They haven’t been exposed to the deluge of public health messaging.”

While marijuana may be perceived as being a benign substance, a number of marijuana products contain extremely high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredient that produces the high marijuana users experience. Monte points out that the majority of ER visits are the result of marijuana affecting pre-existing medical conditions, according to the article. Cannabis edibles are also responsible for a large number of emergency room visits, which if too much is consumed can cause severe vomiting.

It is important to keep in mind that on top of physical health risks, marijuana can become habit forming and potentially lead to addiction. If marijuana is negatively impacting your life, please contact Harmony Foundation for assistance.

College Students Report Using Marijuana Regularly

college marijuana use

The rate of every day or near every day use of marijuana among college students is at its highest since the 1980s. New research has shown that 6 percent of college students report using marijuana regularly, Reuters reports. The rise is most likely linked to relaxed marijuana policies across the country, leading to the perception that the drug is harmless. So what do we know about college marijuana use?

“It’s clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation’s college students,” study author Lloyd Johnston said in a news release. “And this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.”

The findings come from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, a long-term epidemiological study that deals with American adolescents and adults’ trends regarding both legal and illegal drug use. In 1980, the rate of regular marijuana use among college students was 7.2 percent, according to the article. The rate of use dropped to 3.5 percent in 2007, and has now climbed up to 6 percent.

High school seniors who use pot regularly will most likely continue using after they leave for college. Teenagers’ perceptions about the dangers of marijuana use are relaxing. In 2006, the MTF found that 55 percent of high school graduates, ages 19-22 thought regular marijuana use was dangerous. The researchers found a significant drop in perceived risk last year, when only 35 percent believed marijuana use to be dangerous, the article reports.

It is likely that cannabis use trends will continue to move in the same direction with reductions in perceived danger and increased daily college marijuana use. States that have legalized the drug for recreational use are likely to see even higher rates of use than states where use is strictly prohibited. There are currently four states that have legalized recreational use, with more expected to follow next year.

It is important to remember that while marijuana may be more benign than other illicit drugs this does not mean it is safe. There is considerable research indicating that marijuana can be detrimental to teenage brains and the drug is habit forming.

If you are or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.

Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana Increases THC Levels

The legalization of recreational marijuana use in a number of states, including Colorado, has created a need for more research on the drug. Up until recently, there had been little research conducted on the effects of marijuana use, let alone on the effects of mixing alcohol and marijuana together – the two mind altering substances that are used together the most frequently.

New research suggests that when a person mixes alcohol and pot they show an increased amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their blood, TIME reports. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for the euphoria that users experience.

The new study involved 19 people who drank alcohol or a placebo in low doses 10 minutes before they used marijuana in either a low or high dose. The researchers found that when a person drank alcohol, their blood concentration of THC was much higher, compared to when marijuana was smoked on its own, according to the article.

Previous research has shown that when alcohol and marijuana are mixed together, users are far more likely to get into a car accident. Teenagers who mixed the two substances were about 50 to 90 percent more likely to admit to unsafe driving, and they had higher rates of traffic tickets/warnings and car accidents. The new research may explain why that tends to be the case.

Mixing alcohol and marijuana is quite common among teenagers and young adults. In most cases, people are unaware that combining any two mind altering substances increases both intoxication and the risk of injury. While alcohol, and now marijuana in some states, are legal – it does not mean that they are always safe; both can lead to addiction.

The new research was published in Clinical Chemistry.

If you are a young adult struggling with alcohol and marijuana use, we encourage you to take a look at our Young Adult Recovery Track. Our program focuses on the specific needs of young people looking to find a new way of life through recovery.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.