TUESDAY, May 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Freshly made marijuana products (edible, concentrated, vaporized) are driving a global increase in pot-related calls to U.S. poison control centers, according to a new study.
Investigators said there were more than 11,100 calls related to marijuana use in 2019, up from 8,200 in 2017.
More and more of these calls are related to manufactured products that contain distilled amounts of THC, CBD and other chemicals found in cannabis.
“We saw this widespread increase in calls nationwide,” said lead researcher Julia Dilley, an epidemiologist with the Oregon Division of Public Health in Portland.
“But when we got into it, those products are driven by that increase,” Dilley continued. “Calls to exposure to flower cannabis are actually declining.”
Exposures to potted plants accounted for most of the center calls in 2017, with 7,146 related to marijuana plants and only 1,094 related to manufactured goods. But in 2019, calls related to manufactured products reached 5,503, while exposure to potted plants sparked 5,606 calls.
The findings were published on May 24 in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Manufactured products usually contain large amounts of THC, the chemical in potted plants that causes poisoning, and these figures show that they have a higher risk of causing a bad reaction.
More than 81% of calls related to manufactured products came from people who used those products on their own, not in combination with alcohol or some other substance, Dilley noted.
“Exposure to cannabis products just needed to be serious enough to need some kind of help,” Dilley said.
The risks of intoxication increase
On the other hand, only 38% of pot plant use calls came from marijuana use alone. “They used it more often with alcohol or some other substance in the mixture,” Dilley said.
Food products make up the bulk of poison control calls related to manufactured products, which account for just over half of the exposures.
And “there are more likely to be exposures to edible products [involving] kids than other types of products, so it’s definitely a concern, ”Dilley said.
For more than three years of calls to the poison control center, there were 2,505 cases related to manufactured goods and children under the age of 10, compared to 1,490 plant-based exposures in that age group, the researchers said.
However, Dilley noted that more than 60% of the time, these exposures caused minor medical problems. Most of the time, people call because they just don’t feel good.
“Some people may experience something that scares them,” Dilley said. “They may feel dizzy and not know if it’s okay or not, and so they call, but they don’t really need medical treatment.”
The researchers found that the rate of poison control calls was higher in states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized.
For example, the rate of calls for manufactured goods was 2.5 per 100,000 people in 2019 in legalized states, compared to 1.3 per 100,000 in states where the recreational pot is still banned.
“This tells us that states that have legalized marijuana are not doing enough to protect children from harm,” said Linda Richter, vice president of research and prevention analysis for the Partnership to End Addiction.
“Groceries can be confused too easily with popular types of sweets and other sweets and are often designed and packaged in a way that explicitly attracts young people [e.g., gummy bears, mini chocolate bars with names and branding that mimic popular brands]”Richter continued.” Vaporized marijuana is odorless and extremely unobtrusive and therefore carries the same risks to children we have seen emerge from the recent nicotine vaporization epidemic. “
Child-resistant packaging reduces the risk
State regulators could play an important role in protecting children from involuntary exposure to marijuana, Dilley said.
“We can design packages that are difficult for children,” Dilley noted. “I know the state of Washington requires that each serving of an edible food be wrapped separately, so if a child finds an edible product, they have to open each dose separately. That makes it harder than children enter and are accidentally exposed. “
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano pointed to another reason why call rates could be higher in states with legal recreational use: people in these places might feel more comfortable calling a control center of poison, because they do not face any possible criminal charge.
But he agreed that state regulators should play a role in these new recreational markets.
“These products should be uniquely and clearly labeled in a way that makes it clear that they contain cannabis and are sold in child-resistant packaging, in order to better discourage involuntary consumption,” Armentano said.
It increased public education about the differences between manufactured goods and the consumption of marijuana plants, he added.
“With non-traditional cannabis-infused products increasingly prevalent in the retail market, parallel efforts should be made to raise public awareness of the dramatic differences in herbal products compared to the products consumed. orally, “Armentano said. “At the very least, potential consumers should be informed that cannabis-infused oral products have a delayed onset, greater variability, and a prolonged duration of effect compared to inhaled marijuana.
“Imposing sound regulations on the cannabis industry, along with better public safety information and greater consumer responsibility and accountability, are the best strategies to address the specific health problems of cannabis due to ingestion or ingestion. excessive use of these products, ”Armentano said. he concluded.
Richter should also encourage parents not to leave home products casually.
“As is true for any addictive substance, if these products are found in the home, adults should make sure to protect children from them by making sure they are out of sight and out of reach of children. young people, ”Richter said. “If adults use them in the presence of children, they should be very careful in explaining that they are dangerous for children to touch or ingest and should refrain from transmitting in any way that the products are harmless or fun or that be necessary to relax and enjoy yourself. “
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more information on marijuana.
SOURCES: Julia Dilley, PhD, epidemiologist, Oregon Division of Public Health, Portland; Linda Richter, PhD, Vice President, Research and Prevention Analysis, Partnership to End Addiction; Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML; JAMA Network Open, May 24, 2021