Cannabis Poisoning Increased After Legalization, Especially in Children
The legalization/decriminalization of medicinal or recreational cannabis is associated with an increase in cannabis poisonings, according to a review published online July 27 in Addiction.
Sarah Allaf, from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the effect of cannabis legalization/decriminalization on acute poisoning. Thirty articles met the inclusion criteria, including 10 conference abstracts. Overall, 14 and 21 studies examined the legalization of medicinal cannabis and decriminalization or legalization of recreational cannabis, respectively.
The researchers found that 24 of the studies reported an increase in poisonings, although there was considerable variation observed in the magnitude. A quantitative analysis included 20 studies, with relative risks varying from 0.81 to 29.00. Based on the pooled estimate, after legalization, there was an increase in poisoning (relative risk, 3.56), which was larger in studies focusing on pediatric patients (relative risk, 4.31).
"It is important that public health agencies consider applying harm minimization approaches to limit the impact of cannabis legislation on acute poisonings, especially as legalization or recreational cannabis continues to be debated," the authors write. "With changing attitudes and perception of risk, there is a need for greater public awareness of the risks of cannabis poisoning, particularly to young people."