Marijuana Use Rarely Leads to Emergency Room, Study Shows

Jul 20, 2010 , , , , , , ,

Researchers at the University of Michigan have sifted through nationwide data to determine the prevalence of different drug-related emergency room visits and (surprise, surprise!) their recently released results show that “marijuana dependence was associated with the lowest rates” of emergency room visits.

NORML’s Paul Armentano has broken down the study here on Alternet:

Among those surveyed, subjects that reported using cannabis were the least likely to report an ED visit (1.71 percent). Respondents who reported lifetime use of heroin, tranquilizers, and inhalants were most likely (18.5 percent, 6.3 percent, and 6.2 percent respectively) to report experiencing one or more ED visits related to their drug use.

Investigators concluded, “[M]arijuana was by far the most commonly used (illicit) drug, but individuals who used marijuana had a low prevalence of drug-related ED visits.”

Paul also points to a recently released RAND study that found California hospitals received only 181 admissions related to marijuana in 2008, compared to an estimated 73,000 such admissions related to alcohol.

This is extremely valuable information in the debate over marijuana prohibition, since opponents of legalization—including the nation’s drug czar—consistently argue that marijuana’s “social costs” are a leading reason why we shouldn’t lift prohibition.

When they make this argument, Gil Kerlikowske and others will always mention the social costs of alcohol without including any supporting evidence to show that marijuana leads to similar results. The reason they don’t cite such evidence, of course, is because they don’t have any. Findings about the extremely low level of emergency room visits for marijuana compared to alcohol and other drugs simply drive another nail into such blissfully ignorant prohibitionist logic.

Oh, and if anyone tries to argue that this situation will somehow change drastically in a regulated marijuana market, consider this: More than 3 million Californians currently use marijuana (at least once) annually, yet fewer than 200 of them end up in the hospital for related reasons.

Kerlikowske and others shy away from stats like these, however, because they are further evidence of marijuana’s high margin of safety—and the insanity behind its prohibition.

24 responses to “Marijuana Use Rarely Leads to Emergency Room, Study Shows”

  1. Now we just need someone to arbitrarily remove cannabis from the shedule list. Just like when it was added (no justification required).

  2. We have to take our country back from these Draconian Prohibitionist. I want my Freedom, Justice, and Liberty back!

  3. it just goes to show that prohibitionists like to live in fantasy land. I guess this is just one more nail in the war on weed,s coffin

  4. This is but another dent in the prohibitionist armor. The prohibs talk of increased hospital admissions as an argument in support of continued persecution and abuse of a minority group(marijuana smokers, medical marijuana patients, and marijuana admirers) in this country. I’m just an admirer heh. Even if Prop 19 fails this isn’t the end. The country isn’t getting any older. It is getting younger. No more will the younger generation believe the outright lies and falsehoods thrown out there by the prohibs day after day. Eventually there little wall will come crumpling down, and that day is coming soon.

  5. i work in level 2 trauma ed and have never taken care of a cannibis only related event. However, i am sick of taking care of the devistation that alcohol leads too. Ive have seen in my years some of the greatest tragedies directly related to alcohol. It begins to feel like your soul is run over a cheese grater. I don’t know if legal cannbis would stop these tragedies but at least give folk the option to choose something else besides etoh.

  6. ^Yeah, when was the last time you heard about some kids( 16-19 ) that have been rushed to the hospital for alcohol poisoning and had their stomachs pumped. Not when your stoned. The worst that could happen is you just simply fall asleep on the couch.

  7. When America wins wars, it usually takes 4 years or less.

    After 73 years I think its time to FUCKING GIVE IT UP!!!!!

  8. The only thing prohibitionist like about pot is to keep it illegal. That is why they lie a lot. What they don’t like is you being happy with yourself and to others for being high on pot. DEA like to keep pot illegal because that is where the money is.
    The only thing prohibitionist and the DEA have in common is stereotyping the pot smoker as social degenerate criminals.

    If you enjoy feeling free, inhibited and away from stress, then you are a potential criminal. Time to pee in the cup.

  9. I need to make a correction about inhibited behavior. Marijuana actually increase awareness; only the imagination is inhibited.
    “Time to pee in the cup” is drug test, and it should not be anybody’s business except for your personal doctor.

  10. They dont want to have to let their paychecks out of prison and are afraid of change that really will make a positive impact on society.

  11. this information is really just another reason for the government to continue prohibition because it’s obvious that it doesn’t pay the healthcare system to have more marijuana users than alcohol addicts.

  12. Surly the government is not stupid and they know these things. It’s a hidden agenda between Obama admin and the Feds. The thing we need to fight about is to get the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to CHANGE ITS POLICIES ON CANNABIS!!!

  13. If and when The US Government legalize marijuana, the ratio of deaths in attempt to smuggle marijuana regardless of country will globally decrease.

  14. Prohibition-
    Was the period in United States history in which the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors was outlawed. It was a time characterized by speakeasies, glamour, and gangsters and a period of time in which even the average citizen broke the law. The push for Prohibition began in earnest in the nineteenth century. After the American Revolution, drinking was on the rise. To combat this, a number of societies were organized as part of a new Temperance movement which attempted to dissuade people from becoming intoxicated. At first, these organizations pushed moderation, but after several decades, the movement’s focus changed to complete prohibition of alcohol consumption.

    The Temperance movement blamed alcohol for many of society’s ills, especially crime and murder. Saloons, a social haven for men who lived in the still untamed West, were viewed by many, especially women, as a place of debauchery and evil. Prohibition, members of the Temperance movement urged, would stop husbands from spending all the family income on alcohol and prevent accidents in the workplace caused by workers who drank during lunch.

    In the beginning of the 20th century, there were Temperance organizations in nearly every state. By 1916, over half of the U.S. states already had statutes that prohibited alcohol. In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the sale and manufacture of alcohol, was ratified. It went into effect on January 16, 1920.

    While it was the 18th Amendment that established Prohibition, it was the Volstead Act (passed on October 28, 1919) that clarified the law. The Volstead Act stated that “beer, wine, or other intoxicating malt or vinous liquors” meant any beverage that was more than 0.5% alcohol by volume. The Act also stated that owning any item designed to manufacture alcohol was illegal and it set specific fines and jail sentences for violating Prohibition.

    There were, however, several loopholes for people to legally drink during Prohibition. For instance, the 18th Amendment did not mention the actual drinking of liquor. Since Prohibition went into effect a full year after the 18th Amendment’s ratification, many people bought cases of then-legal alcohol and stored them for personal use. The Volstead Act allowed alcohol consumption if it was prescribed by a doctor. Needless to say, large numbers of new prescriptions were written for alcohol. ..etc….

  15. It’s encouraging to read the compassionate and rational comments here but I think some are accidentally barking up the wrong tree. Prohibition is neither insane nor stupid and we are fighting the wrong battle thinking it is and that education is the answer. Prohibition is a government bully act and always has been.

    From Harry Anslinger’s racist agenda to Richard Nixon’s side stepping over Viet Nam War protesters rights, Drug Prohibition has been about bullying political minorities, not health or safety. Ronald Reagan upped the stakes by making it a virtually religious persecution but, again, not a health or safety issue. Much bullying gets done under the banner of righteousness.

    The DEA will shoot your dogs when they kick in your doors and will deny Pell Grants to any pot smokers. Who, but bullies, would do that? For smoking cannabis?

    Get mad, get active, get loud. I’d sure like to see some of our Prohibitionist Congressmen and Senators get the bum’s rush out the chambers’ doors after the next election.

  16. Ive used for over 15 years and I am as healthy mentally and physically as anyone I know, I get sick about once a year on average and have never had any medical problems associated with marijuana, not even a single hangover. I guess you could say I’m living proof that marijuana is not dangerous.

    Special interests lobby to keep it illegal because they profit far greater in a marijuanaless economy as it could replace many items that are currently the bloodline for some very large industries such as the prison industrial complex, legal/law enforcement, pharmaceutical, alcohol, tobacco, textile, fuel and many more industries. Its all about money and control, the corporations are the ones running things so long as they are allowed to buy off our elected officials, and with no cap on the amount they can “donate” they effectively use peoples weakness for financial security to influence the laws that best suit their profit driven industries, and the rest is history. Until the people take their country back from the money hungry corporations we will continue to watch our civil rights, health and freedoms diminish in the face of corporate profits, plain and simple.

  17. I haven’t seen the research – could MIP/Mike M. clarify the difference between the statements, “marijuana DEPENDENCE was associated with the lowest rates” of emergency room visits.” and “subjects that reported USING cannabis were the least likely to report.” I don’t wish to derail this into debating (I’m here to discover, not debate) the whole cannabis “dependence” issue, but am seeking clarification; wondering why one statement is about dependence while another is about use.

  18. As an Emergency Room nurse I am often amazed at the reasoning behind demonizing marijuana. We have a protocol for alcohol withdrawal. We have protocols because people die if we don’t give them medications to stop them from seizing when they don’t have it in their system. Delirium tremons.
    Any body ever hear of that from smoking too
    Much weed? No… Alcohol is far more
    Damaging than marijuana ever dreamed of being. It’s time for it to become legal.
    Big business is keeping it illegal.
    It’s all about money.

  19. Quantitative differences are compelling, but differences in kind matter, too.
    What were the 181 admission events that *were* related to marijuana? I’ll wager that they were overwhelmingly for conditions that are non-chronic and non-lethal (indigestion from consuming too many munchies? back cramps from falling asleep in a poor position?), whereas alcohol, heroin, and other drug-related admissions will include the collapse of vital organs, life-threatening liver, heart, and nerve conditions, and more – not to mention the rape, domestic violence, child abuse, vehicular homicide, and other harms generated by alcohol.

  20. Was just sitting reading this, no big surprise, then it came to me. I am fighting the results of beating 3 types of 3rd stage cancers, and now found out the dirty little secret about radiation poisoning. My body rejects all chemical forms of pain relief, all their narcotics…but if I run out of herb, by day three I am in such intense pain I MAY end up in the emergency room…but they cant help much cause they cant hand me a fatty. And I cant handle their codiene, demerol, dilaudid, perocet, or, so much for leading to harder drugs. They make me puke. Reefer eases my nausea, eases my pain, relaxes my nerves..and no, I dont want to jump out of my sickbed to fight with my spouse, go abuse someone, drive stupid…go figure.

    for those fighting the fight with me, thank you.

  21. I am diagnosed to having Hyperthyroid Disorder:
    Thyroid hormone functions as a controller of the pace of all of the processes in the body. This pace is called metabolism. If there is too much thyroid hormone, every function of the body tends to speed up. It is therefore not surprising that some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are nervousness, irritability, increased perspiration, heart racing, hand tremors, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, thinning of the skin, fine brittle hair, and muscular weakness—especially in the upper arms and thighs.
    It also affects the potassium level, mine read twice at 1.6 and 1.4, and may lead to respiratory failure.

    By smoking cannabis, it helps me to be relaxed and calm most of the days…

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