Colorado's Weed Tourists Are Also Keeping Its Hospitals in Business

Colorado's Weed Tourists Are Also Keeping Its Hospitals in Business
Source: AP
Source: AP

There's a new breed of tourists flooding Colorado, and it turns out they can't hold their weed.

While most of the state's residents have managed to enjoy legalized marijuana without much consequence, the number of out-of-towners landing in emergency rooms for weed-related ailments is rising. According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the rate of such visits for non-Colorado residents doubled between 2013 and 2014.

Read more: The Booming Marijuana Industry Is Still Too White

After surveying 100 different Colorado hospitals, the study found that in 2013, 85 per 10,000 ER visits were cannabis related, compared to 168 per 10,000 visits in 2014, the year marijuana retail sales began in Colorado.

Emergency medicine physician Howard Kim told NPR that tourists often fall victim to the delayed effects of marijuana. "They don't feel anything. Then they take another one, and when the effect finally kicks in — now they have the effect of multiple products." Patients with marijuana intoxication show up in the ER complaining of everything from anxiety, quickened heart rates and vomiting to "brief psychotic episodes."

Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment launched its "Good To Know" campaign in January 2015, which focuses on how to enjoy recreational marijuana responsibly. But the researchers behind the study claim the initiative may have overlooked an important demographic.

"The initial educational efforts through mass media have focused primarily on Colorado residents," they wrote. "These data underscore the importance of point-of-sale education for visitors regarding the safe and appropriate use of marijuana products."

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Marie Solis

Marie is a staff writer with a focus in feminist issues. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Warrant suggests Justine Damond may have slapped police cruiser before she was fatally shot

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Paul Manafort is meeting with Senate investigators. Here’s what we know about his Russia ties.

Paul Manafort has Russia links dating back more than 10 years.

Yes, Donald Trump can fire Robert Mueller. Here’s how he can do it.

It's a complicated process, and it could get messy, but he can do it.

Charlie Gard’s parents say they want to take their son home to die

The parents are returning to court to fight for their right to take their son home.

Vatican shuts off historic fountains in the midst of devastating drought

Officials say it's the first time they can recall ever shutting off the Vatican's fountains.

Warrant suggests Justine Damond may have slapped police cruiser before she was fatally shot

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave.

House passes new sanctions against Russia by an enormous margin

The bill also places limits on Trump’s power to ease or end penalties against Russia.

Paul Manafort is meeting with Senate investigators. Here’s what we know about his Russia ties.

Paul Manafort has Russia links dating back more than 10 years.

Yes, Donald Trump can fire Robert Mueller. Here’s how he can do it.

It's a complicated process, and it could get messy, but he can do it.

Charlie Gard’s parents say they want to take their son home to die

The parents are returning to court to fight for their right to take their son home.

Vatican shuts off historic fountains in the midst of devastating drought

Officials say it's the first time they can recall ever shutting off the Vatican's fountains.