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Poison Centers Report Increases in Marijuana Exposures

According to a recent report from the Washington Poison Center (WAPC), the number of marijuana exposures in the state has grown since marijuana was legalized statewide in November of 2012.

Through the first quarter of 2015, the WAPC received 71 reports of exposures – 18 more than the first quarter totals of last year.  The center’s data includes calls from both healthcare professionals and the general public, and includes calls related to both recreational and medical marijuana.

Including April data, the center reported a total of 79 exposure cases for 2015, 43 of which involved intentional marijuana use, and 22 of which involved unintentional or accidental exposure. A total of 245 exposure cases were reported in 2014.

Dr. Alexander Garrard, clinical managing director at the WAPC, says the Washington increase could simply indicate that more people are proactive about calling to report incidents of exposure than ever before, and does not necessarily mean that an increasing number of individuals are being exposed or poisoned. Garrard says approximately 60 percent of 2015 calls regarding marijuana related to edible marijuana products, and millennials are the most likely age group to report exposure incidents to the center.

Since the Washington State Legislature passed a 2012 bill legalizing small amounts of marijuana for those 21 and older, at least 99 stores have been officially licensed for marijuana sales throughout the state, according to a Seattle Times report from December of 2014.

A 2014 report by the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center (RMPDC) in Colorado, another state that has legalized marijuana, showed 151 calls in 2014 related to marijuana exposure – an increase from 88 in 2013 and 61 in 2012. According to Drugfree.org, the number of calls regarding exposure to marijuana combined with other drugs has also increased at the RMPDC – there were 70 in 2014 and 39 in 2013. Again, it is unclear as to whether these numbers reflect an actual increase in marijuana use, and how much the numbers might indicate a possible growing sense of comfort on the part of citizens throughout the state related to reporting marijuana problems now that the substance is legal for those over 21 years of age. Read full article.