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Emergency rooms in states with legalized cannabis see uptick in marijuana-related illnesses

Chuck Grimmett
/
Creative Commons

In states like Colorado, where cannabis is now legal, a mysterious marijuana-related illness is bringing people with symptoms of nausea, severe abdominal pain and violent vomiting to hospital emergency rooms.

As The Huffington Post reports, the illness is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), which is linked to heavy, long-term use of marijuana, according to experts. For some reason, the nausea and vomiting that accompanies CHS can be relieved with hot showers or baths, which can serve as an important hint for physicians trying to diagnose a patient. 

According to a study from the journal Academic Emergency Medicine, emergency room diagnoses for CHS in two of Colorado’s hospitals nearly doubled since 2009, when the federal government relaxed its stance on medical marijuana. Colorado made recreational marijuana legal in 2012.

Other states where cannabis is now legal, like Washington and the District of Columbia, have also seen an uptick in CHS-related emergency room visits.

The study found that the symptoms of CHS are similar to another condition known as cyclic vomiting syndrome, and seemed to effect only those patients who had been smoking weed regularly for at least three years.

As The Inquisitr reports people who suffer from CHS make an average of seven trips to the emergency room and are hospitalized three or more times. Exacerbating the problem, many sufferers increase their weed smoking in an effort to alleviate nausea, but doing so only makes the symptoms worse.

In its most severe form, The Huffington Post reports, CHS can lead to kidney failure and the only cure seems to be ceasing marijuana use.