The House Health Policy Subcommittee heard from two Colorado emergency room doctors about marijuana-related admissions.
With the strong possibility that a legalized cannabis citizens’ initiative will make the 2020 ballot, Florida policymakers are looking for insights from jurisdictions where weed is legal.
To that end, testimony from two experts on Wednesday.
Andrew Monte of the University of Colorado School of Medicine discussed “adverse effects,” specifically adults and their visits to the ER because of marijuana overdoses and related complications.
Dr. Monte, whose scholarly work includes studies of “toxicity” in edibles, described “lessons to be learned” from Colorado, which had an “amazing explosion” of dispensaries for “quote/unquote ‘medical purposes.’ “
“There’s a dispensary on every corner,” Monte quipped.
(Indeed, that harks to then-House Speaker Will Weatherford‘s famous prediction about “the Coloradofication of Florida, where the end game is a pot shop on every street corner.”)
Monte estimates that 25 to 30 percent of Colorado adults have used cannabis over the past month. With no restrictions on THC levels, Monte sees issues with people being “poisoned” from marijuana, with edibles being the worst. Their effects last for hours, creating specific challenges, he said.
The “increased availability of cannabis,” combined with spiking THC levels (“up to 30% in some strains!!”), correlates with increases in ER visits.
Among the concerns: Cannabis hyperemesis, which translates to serial vomiting among the most excessive users; and “exacerbation” of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
The worst case scenarios were outlined. One gentleman shot his wife, it was said. Another jumped off a balcony. Both were on an edible high.
“Edibles are ubiquitous,” Monte said, urging that they are best suited for the medical market only.
A fivefold increase in cannabis associated ER psych visits can be found statewide, Monte added.
Even the medical market is suspect, Monte said, noting approvals without medical evidence and inconsistencies between listed THC amounts on packages and what is actually there.
Monte also wondered if use of cannabis among military personnel stationed in Colorado affected their ability to fight, but had no data to back that up.
In terms of optimistic takes, Monte noted that education has helped to temper rates of use among people below the age of 18.