“Cannabis use is not as benign and safe as some might think,” said study author Nicholas Vozoris, assistant professor and clinician investigator in the division of respirology at the department of medicine at the University of Toronto.
“Our study demonstrates that the use of this substance is associated with serious negative outcomes, specifically, ED (emergency department) visits and hospitalizations,” Vozoris said in an email.
When compared with people who did not use marijuana, cannabis users were 22% more likely to visit an emergency department or be hospitalized, the study revealed.
The finding held true even after adjusting the analysis for over 30 other confounding factors, including other illicit drug use, alcohol use and tobacco smoking.
“Physical bodily injury was the leading cause of emergency department visits and hospitalizations among the cannabis users, with respiratory reasons coming in a close second,” Vozoris said.
Growing body of research
A number of studies have shown an association between marijuana use and injury, both physical and mental.
Another 2021 study found habitual users of cannabis, including teenagers, are increasingly showing up in emergency rooms complaining of severe intestinal distress that’s known as “cannabis hyperemesis syndrome,” or CHS.
A review published earlier this year looked at studies on over 43,000 people and found a negative impact of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, on the brain’s higher levels of thinking.
At a time when “health care systems are already stretched thin around the world following the Covid pandemic and with difficult economic times … cannabis use is on the rise around the world,” Vozoris said.
“Our study results should set off ‘alarm bells’ in the minds of the public, health care professionals, and political leaders,” he said in his email.