A new study, published earlier this week, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted by emergency room doctors at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. The study, which aimed to provide a balanced perspective for other states to look at when considering marijuana legalization, began on this first day of 2014 when recreational marijuana sales became legal in the state of Colorado.
The published report begins with a brief history of marijuana in the state of Colorado, starting with the legalization of medical marijuana in the year 2000. Also included in the report is both the expected and unexpected health system effects of legalization, the positive results of medical marijuana use in treating many debilitating medical conditions, and the challenges presented by marijuana edibles.
The study reports both the positives and negatives seen by the doctors in this emergency room. Dr. Andrew Monte, lead study author and toxicologist told The Denver Channel, “The poison is always in the dose. We have to understand in the right circumstances, marijuana and its components can be very beneficial. However it can also have risks as well.”
The study confirms what many other studies have relayed about the benefits medical marijuana has had on such medical conditions as epilepsy and inflammatory bowl disease, acknowledging the anti-inflammatory properties in cannabis. The beneficial role medical marijuana has played in replacing patient need for pain relieving pharmaceuticals, resulting in a decrease in opioid-related deaths, is also covered. Most importantly, marijuana legalization has opened the door for honest conversation and research.
The negatives acknowledged in the study seemed to center around ingestible forms of marijuana. Approximately 2,000 patients are admitted to the emergency room at the University of Colorado Aurora each week. Of those 2,000 patients, 1 or 2 people may be admitted for marijuana intoxication. People suffering from marijuana intoxication may demonstrate such symptoms as panic attacks and anxiety, public intoxication or vomiting. The study reports that the majority of marijuana intoxication cases were the result of consuming marijuana edibles. Cases like these, caused by inexperience and lack of marijuana edible education will likely increase in the very near future, but decrease over the long term, as more research and studies are completed to, ultimately, educate the public.
More cannabis research and clinical studies must be completed. At least this is a step in the direction of openness and honesty in regards to marijuana research. As Dr. Monte pointed out, “The take away is that there are both positives and negatives for marijuana legalization and liberalization.”