This article discusses the authors’ examination of cannabinoid poisoning-related medical encounters, including emergency department visits and in-patient hospitalizations, stressing the importance of broader recognition of health risks of cannabinoid use.
Cannabis is the most-used federally illicit substance. Due to widespread medicinal use and state-level legalization, public perceptions of cannabis have shifted toward the assumption that cannabis is safe, but cannabinoids can cause adverse medical complications that may lead people to seek treatment. This study characterized cannabinoid poisoning-related medical encounters, poisoning involving cannabinoids and other psychoactive substances, and cannabinoid poisoning-related cardiac complications. The authors used administrative billing data for emergency department visits and in-patient hospitalizations in acute care facilities with a discharge date from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2019, to characterize cannabinoid poisoning events in Kentucky; identified by ICD-10-CM diagnosis code T40.7X. The authors found 1,490 encounters of cannabinoid poisoning; patients were primarily non-Hispanic white males, ages 15 to 44, who had Medicaid and lived in a metropolitan area. Of those, 31.21 percent involved poisoning with a second psychoactive substance, primarily stimulants and/or opioids, and 17.72 percent experienced a cardiac complication. Cannabinoid-polydrug poisoning was associated with inpatient treatment and cardiac complications. These results are consistent with other state-level data; patients who were diagnosed with cannabis-polydrug poisoning, compared to cannabis alone poisoning, had greater odds of hospital admission and cardiac complications, and longer length of hospital stays. The authors conclude that health risks of cannabinoid use must be more broadly recognized, while timely and accurate data need to be shared to guide policies on cannabis access. Future research on cannabinoid poisoning should consider the involvement of other psychoactive drugs. Publisher Abstract Provided
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