Study: Adult-Use Legalization Not Associated with Increase in Emergency Department Visits

Hamilton, Ontario: The enactment of adult-use legalization in Canada has not been associated with an overall increase in the total number of patients admitted to emergency departments for acute cannabis intoxication/dysphoria, according to data published in the journal BMC Emergency Medicine.

A team of Canadian researchers assessed cannabis-related ED admission rates at a Hamilton, Ontario facility during the six-months immediately prior to and immediately following the enactment of legalization. 

They reported, “There was no difference in the overall rate of ED visits following legalization.” However, they did acknowledge an increase following legalization among a subset of patients ages 18 to 29. Most of these visits “consisted only of observation within the ED.” Authors speculated that this subset of patients likely consists of “new users … seeking medical care as a result of unpleasant symptoms, … which ultimately resolve on their own with time and reassurance.”

Authors concluded, “To our knowledge, this study constitutes the most extensive examination of documented acute cannabis intoxication ED visits before and after the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. Our primary outcome suggests that cannabis legalization was not associated with a change in the rate of ED visits for acute cannabis intoxication.”

Full text of the study, “Acute cannabis intoxication in the emergency department: The effect of legalization,” appears in BMC Emergency Medicine.