HealthDay News —  Researchers have identified an increase in emergency department (ED) visits for out-of-state individuals vs Colorado residents following legalization of cannabis, reflecting a need for education on the safe use of marijuana.

In a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Howard S. Kim, MD, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, and colleagues reported on their cross-sectional study conducted at an urban academic hospital in Aurora, Colorado.  They compared the rates of cannabis-related ED visits for out-of-state individuals with those of 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 ED visits (per 10,000 visits) for out-of-state individuals doubled from 85 in 2013 to 168 in 2014 (rate ratio, 1.98; P = .001). Among Colorado residents, the rate of cannabis-related ED visits (per 10,000 visits) increased from 106 in 2013 to 112 in 2014 (rate ratio, 1.05; P = .26). Data from the Colorado Hospital Association demonstrated that from 2013 to 2014, cannabis-related ED visits (per 10,000 visits) increased from 112 to 163 for out-of-state individuals (rate ratio, 1.46; P < .001) and from 86 to 101 for Colorado residents (rate ratio, 1.17; P < .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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