Marijuana Related ER Visits Increase in Colorado Among Tourists

After legalization, pot-related ER visits increased faster for visitors than for Colorado residents
After legalization, pot-related ER visits increased faster for visitors than for Colorado residents

HealthDay News — The rates of emergency department visits possibly related to marijuana use have increased disproportionately for out-of-state visitors compared with Colorado residents, according to a research letter published in the February 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Howard S. Kim, MD, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study at an urban academic hospital in Aurora, Colorado, to compare the rates of cannabis-related emergency department visits for out-of-state residents and Colorado residents. Data were collected from 2012 to 2014, which was the first year of retail marijuana sales in Colorado.

The researchers found that the rate of cannabis-related emergency department visits (per 10,000 visits) for out-of-state residents doubled from 85 in 2013 to 168 in 2014 (rate ratio, 1.98; P = 0.001). Among Colorado residents, the rate of cannabis-related emergency department visits (per 10,000 visits) increased from 106 in 2013 to 112 in 2014 (rate ratio, 1.05; P = 0.26). Data from the Colorado Hospital Association showed that from 2013 to 2014, cannabis-related emergency department visits (per 10,000 visits) increased from 112 to 163 for out-of-state residents (rate ratio, 1.46; P < 0.001) and from 86 to 101 for Colorado residents (rate ratio, 1.17; P < 0.001).

"Emergency department visits related to cannabis use appear to be increasing more rapidly among out-of-state residents than among Colorado residents," the authors write. "These data underscore the importance of point-of-sale education for visitors regarding the safe and appropriate use of marijuana products."

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