Marijuana-related ER visits are on the rise in Colorado, especially among out-of-state visitors
Experts say more education is needed for consumers at pot retailers
Colorado legalized retail marijuana in 2012 and sales began in 2014
(CNN)Weed-related emergency room visits are on the rise in Colorado since voters approved the legalization of retail marijuana in 2012 and sales began in 2014. And these incidents are increasing more dramatically among out-of-state visitors, according to research published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
This isn't the first time we've seen the negative impacts of marijuana.
A study of use in Colorado published in 2015 found increases in marijuana-related traffic deaths, hospital visits, school suspensions, lab explosions and pet poisonings. In that study, marijuana-related ER visits increased 57% from 2011 to 2013.
This new study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Colorado School of Medicine reviewed ER visits at more than 100 hospitals from 2012 to 2014. Out-of-state visitor trips to the ER visits for marijuana-related symptoms rose from 78 per 10,000 visits in 2012, to 112 per 10,000 in 2013, to 163 per 10,000 in 2014 -- an increase of 109% from 2012 to 2014.
For Colorado residents, marijuana-related ER visits rose from 70 per 10,000 in 2012 to 101 per 10,000 in 2014 -- a 44% increase.
"Visitors are less-experienced with Colorado cannabis products, which is more potent than what many have previously used," said Dr. Andrew Monte, the senior author of the study and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "People are more likely to use the drug, and use it in excess, when visiting or on vacation."