“Concerning” – Cannabis Legalization Linked To Surge in Poisonings

Rainbow Brain Cannabis

A recent meta-analysis in the journal Addiction suggests that legalizing cannabis is associated with higher rates of cannabis poisoning, particularly in children. It attributes the rise in poisoning largely to the increased availability and consumption of cannabis edibles, which are especially attractive to children and have delayed effects.

A new meta-analysis, published in the scientific journal Addiction, has revealed a connection between the legalization of cannabis and an increase in instances of cannabis poisoning. This increase in the risk of cannabis poisoning was notably higher in studies that were centered around children.

Cannabis poisoning is a condition caused by the intake of an excessive amount of cannabis in a single instance. Its symptoms can range from lethargy, drowsiness, and dizziness, to hypertension, palpitations, and tachycardia (a fast heart rate). Additionally, sufferers may experience nausea, vomiting, irritability, agitation, a slowdown of the central nervous system, and in severe cases, even a coma. The accidental consumption of cannabis by children is especially worrisome due to their increased vulnerability to severe toxicity, which can result in comas and adverse neurological and cardiovascular effects

The analysis pooled the results of 30 studies, including ten abstracts from major clinical toxicology conferences. The studies reported a general rise in the rate of cannabis poisoning after cannabis legalization or decriminalization. However, results among the studies are highly heterogenous, and most of the evidence comes from the USA and Canada, which might not apply in other countries that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis.

Studies that focused on the medical use of cannabis reported a higher risk of poisoning and were less heterogenous than those that included the recreational use of cannabis. Studies that did not report a statistically significant change for overall poisoning often found increases among subgroups, such as children or intensive care admissions.

Senior author Dr. Rose Cairns, from the University of Sydney, says, “Although the results of the studies are varied, almost all of them point to an increase in cannabis poisoning following a change to cannabis laws. The likely explanation is that legislation has increased the use of cannabis, which has also increased poisoning. For example, the modification of cannabis laws could have increased the perceived acceptability of cannabis use (if it’s legal, it must be safe), thereby increasing use.

“Increased availability and use of edibles (gummies and chocolates, for example) appears to be an important driver of the increase in poisonings, particularly among children. Edible cannabis has a higher risk of poisoning because people tend to consume larger quantities, and the effects of cannabis take longer to show up when ingested than they do when smoked. This is concerning because edibles are especially attractive to children.”

Reference: “The impact of cannabis legalization and decriminalization on acute poisoning: A systematic review” by Sara Allaf, Jessy S. Lim, Nicholas A. Buckley and Rose Cairns, 26 July 2023, Addiction.
DOI: 10.1111/add.16280

The study was funded by NHMRC Investigator Grants.

5 Comments on "“Concerning” – Cannabis Legalization Linked To Surge in Poisonings"

  1. Omighawd Bhannet | July 30, 2023 at 5:53 pm | Reply

    That’s awful! How many deaths have there been? Is it none? Because I think it’s still none.

    Ever since they legalized water, people have been drowning worldwide, and they stay drowned. When can we ban water?

  2. Eric M. Jones | July 31, 2023 at 8:03 am | Reply

    No deaths? How many alcohol deaths have there been? 140,000 every year, or more than 380 per day. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/features/excessive-alcohol-deaths.html

    • Omighawd Bhannet | July 31, 2023 at 2:39 pm | Reply

      If legalizing cannabis is bad with no deaths, and there’s 380 alcohol American deaths per day, then surely alcohol must still be banned. That’s 11780 alcohol deaths this July, or four nine elevenses, which is more than “Concerning”. Prohibiting it is certain to work.

  3. over thirty years bud burner | August 2, 2023 at 9:04 am | Reply

    Kids see right through the BS. Always have, always will. Over-dosing has now become the scary word “poinsoned”. In the 1970s, a doctor (I forget his name) investigated the toxic O.D. level using “hash” (concentrated extract from the plant). It took 7 grams. For most folks I used to know, a gram can last a week. That’s quite a lot of a plant’s bud to consume.
    But when nay-sayers push this kind of scary B.S., kids start to IGNORE them outright. They don’t trust ANYTHING that “parents” and “adults” say. Then they think the other, truly dangerous drugs (alcohol, all amphetamines, all opiates, all barbiturates, Xanax (I forget the drug class), etc.). How many friends have I lost either because they are DEAD or completely whacked in the head? Lets see……well over 10.

    • Omighawd Bhannet | August 3, 2023 at 2:49 pm | Reply

      Kids do have a ‘lameness’ detector, and it’s how politics swings back every generation. Everything is a poison, depending on the dose and ingestion route. Not just inhaling water, but people die of drinking too much water too. The “scientific journal Addiction” is even a poison, depending on how and how much of the journal is inserted into this study’s authors.

      I’m sorry to hear about your friends. It’s hard to stay safe with alcohol stores on every streetcorner, and doctors prescribing benzos, while the entire species of a safe treatment is made illicit. I’ve lost and nearly-lost family this way, so NIH propaganda hits personally.

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