Cannabis is seriously affecting the health of young users, doctors in Colorado have reported.
Medics suggest dangerous levels of the addictive compound delta‐9‐tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis products is behind a rise in the number of young people needing treatment for psychotic episodes and a mysterious illness known as ‘scromiting’.
Colorado was one of the first US states to decriminalise cannabis in 2012, and the drug is now freely available for recreational use for people over the age of 21.
NBC News reported that the rise in cases of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome among young people, is alarming health care workers.
ER doctor, Brad Roberts said that in 2009 there were only five reported cases of the condition, known colloquially as ‘scromiting’ because it involves bouts of nonstop screaming and vomiting. By 2018, the number had risen to 120.
Dr Timothy Meyers, chair of the emergency department at Boulder Community Health, told the news channel that cases were unheard of twenty years ago, but he now sees it “practically every day”.
In 2018, a US investigation into the syndrome found that it was becoming a “commonplace and costly occurrence in hospitals nationwide”.
Four other Colorado doctors told NBC News that they had seen an increasing incidence of mental illness in patients because of the high concentrations of THC in cannabis on the market.
Dr Karen Randall, who works with Dr Meyers at Parkview Medical Center, said: “Almost every day I see a patient in the ER who is having a psychotic break after taking high-potency THC.”
Toxicologist and ER physician Dr G. Sam Wang, based at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, observed: “Evidence for how cannabis, especially in higher concentrations, impacts mental health is growing and stronger, especially on how it relates to psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms.”
He added: “These impacts are seen more with higher-concentrated products and with more frequent use.”
Last year, a US study showed that cannabis acts as a ‘gateway drug’, leading users to other illegal substances such as cocaine.
And recent research conducted at the UK’s University of Bath revealed that the potency of cannabis has increased over the past fifty years and the drug is becoming progressively worse in its effects.
Dr Tom Freeman, the main author of the report, said: “More Europeans are now entering drug treatment because of cannabis than heroin or cocaine.”