Many people believe that cannabis is the ultimate “mellow drug” and it doesn’t carry any adverse risks, but emergency room doctors say otherwise.
Doctors at an emergency room in Halifax say they have regularly dealt with cases of negative health effects associated with cannabis consumption.
“We do see a lot of cannabis hyperemesis — people who have prolonged vomiting from heavy cannabis use. We have a lot of anxiety attacks We do have a lot of people who come in who’ve suffered motor vehicle crashes while they’ve been under the influence of cannabis,” said Dr. Sam Campbell, the chief emergency physician at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.
“We do get a lot of psychiatric stuff that we ascribe to cannabis use.”
Mental health can be negatively impacted by the consumption of cannabis, according to emergency department psychiatrist, Dr. Sumeer Bhalla.
“If someone exhibits signs of psychosis and they’re not treated properly or looked after, then it can get worse and be detrimental to their life,” Dr. Bhalla said.
He adds that research in the field of cannabis health benefits isn’t readily available and it’s challenging to prove that there are benefits in treating mental health disorders with cannabis.
“There’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that it actually helps treat mental health disorders. A lot of people with PTSD do use it, but it does exasperate those anxiety symptoms in a lot of people actually,” Dr. Bhalla said.
The state of Colorado legalized cannabis in 2014 and since then, research has shown a “significant increase” in emergency department visits associated with cannabis consumption.
While it’s impossible to forecast what the impacts of cannabis legalization will have on emergency departments in Canada, Dr. Campbell says his team is prepared to handle whatever happens.
“It will be interesting to see, that’s the big question,” he said.