Canada: No Uptick in Trauma Patients Testing Positive for Cannabis Post-Legalization

London, Canada: The enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization is not associated with any immediate uptick in the percentage of trauma patients testing positive for past cannabis exposure, according to data published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery

A team of researchers with Western University in London, Ontario evaluated adults admitted into a leading Canadian trauma center in the three months immediately prior to and immediately following legalization. Subjects were screened for the presence of cannabis metabolites upon admission. Most patients were admitted to the trauma unit following motor vehicle collisions. 

Investigators reported: “We found that the rate of positive cannabinoid screen results among patients with trauma referred directly to our trauma service was similar in the 3 months before and [in] the 3 months after the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. … In the subgroup of patients whose mechanism of trauma was a motor vehicle collision, there was no difference in the rate of positive toxicology screen results or positive cannabinoid screen results between the two periods.”

They concluded, “These preliminary single-center data showing no increased rates of cannabis use in patients with trauma after legalization are reassuring.”

The data is consistent with prior studies showing no significant changes in traffic safety in the months immediately following the enactment of adult-use legalization. However, separate assessments evaluating longer-term trends in traffic safety following legalization have yielded mixed results

Full text of the study, “Drug use in Canadian patients with trauma after cannabis legalization,” appears in the Canadian Journal of Surgery. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, ‘Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance