People Are Pushing Back Against Report That Links Marijuana to Uncontrollable Vomiting

A newly published report found there was a significant increase in vomiting-related hospitalizations in states where cannabis was legalized.


Image via Getty/Thomas Samson/AFP


Twitter users are dismissing a report that links marijuana consumption to a rise in uncontrollable vomiting.

According to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, Colorado health facilities began experiencing a drastic surge in vomiting-related illnesses in 2013, shortly after the state legalized recreational marijuana. The study—authored by Dr. Sam Wang, a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado—found there was a 29 percent increase in vomiting-related ER visits in Colorado between Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2018. During that time, a total of 820,778 people were treated at emergency departments with symptoms of nausea and vomiting; more than 30 percent of those patients were 25 or younger. 

The study also notes that counties with no prior marijuana dispensaries experienced a higher rate of vomiting-related ED visits. Per the report:

Because counties with greater numbers of medical dispensaries would have greater baseline exposure to cannabis, we hypothesized that the increase in the number of vomiting-related ED visits after legalization of recreational cannabis might be higher in counties with low or no baseline exposure to medical markets before legalization.

“They are writhing, holding their stomach, complaining of really bad abdominal pain and nausea,” Wang told CNN. “They vomit and then just continue to vomit whatever they have in their stomach, which can go on for hours. They often say they took a scalding hot shower before they came to the ER but it didn’t help. That’s when we know we may have a case of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.”

CHS is described as a gastrointestinal illness that causes severe bouts of vomiting among cannabis users or those who are exposed to it. However, some physicians have refused to diagnosis the condition, as vomiting is associated with a wide range of illnesses unrelated to marijuana consumption.

“The [CHS] diagnosis code is new [October 2020] and cases are being lost in the total number of Nausea/Vomiting coded cases,” Dr. Adrian Elliot, head of the Emergency Department at Fairview Hospital, told the Berkshire Edge. “Additionally, it is difficult to get to the diagnosis of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, as getting all of the history needed to make the definitive link between marijuana use and the nausea/vomiting patient complaint is difficult in the emergency department setting.”

Although Wang warned the public about the potential dangers of CHS, many Twitter users pushed back against the report, writing it off as Reefer Madness-esque propaganda. You can read some of the reactions below. 

Who paid for this headline?

— Chef Andrew Gruel (@ChefGruel) September 17, 2021

this is true. I also got GIANT balls from it. and my cereal has shrimp in it.

— Steve Zaragoza (@stevezaragoza) September 17, 2021

— 𝓐𝓵𝓵𝓮𝓷 𝓡𝓪𝔂 - Now With Electrolytes! (@2CynicAl65) September 17, 2021

Latest in Life