As of December 2016, just over half of all states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana. The push for legalization has increased tremendously over the last 15 years, and it shows no sign of slowing.
While this is spreading from state to state, the federal government has yet to show any real sign of a push to legalize marijuana. Furthermore, the legalization efforts in each individual state haven’t been easy.
Now, there is a new enemy of one marijuana and legalization. It is being called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.
In a story ran by CBS yesterday, the claim is that CHS has been discovered seemingly out of nowhere since legalization has increased. In other words, patients that live in states that have legalized marijuana have been presenting to ERs with the “mysterious illness.”
From CBS News:
For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea.
“The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.
“They’ll often present to the emergency department three, four, five different times before we can sort this out,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.
According to Dr, Kennon Heard, this mysterious illness just happens to “suddenly disappear” when the individual suffering from it takes a hot shower.
The so-called study conducted, (if you can even call it that), cites the following:
The authors reviewed 2,574 visits and identified 36 patients diagnosed with cyclic vomiting over 128 visits. The prevalence of cyclic vomiting visits increased from 41 per 113,262 ED visits to 87 per 125,095 ED visits after marijuana liberalization, corresponding to a prevalence ratio of 1.92 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.33 to 2.79). Patients with cyclic vomiting in the postliberalization period were more likely to have marijuana use documented than patients in the preliberalization period (odds ratio = 3.59, 95% CI = 1.44 to 9.00).
In the study’s own conclusions it states:
The prevalence of cyclic vomiting presentations nearly doubled after the liberalization of medical marijuana. Patients presenting with cyclic vomiting in the postliberalization period were more likely to endorse marijuana use, although it is unclear whether this was secondary to increased marijuana use, more accurate marijuana reporting, or both.
The truth is, this study appears to be flawed in that the only control used is that the patients with several ER visits for cyclical vomiting were “more likely to endorse marijuana use.” In reality, this proves nothing.
What other habits did the patient have? Were there any pre-existing conditions? These are all questions that are quite obvious.
Humans have been smoking marijuana for thousands of years. In recent history, cannabis itself has been shown to have enormously positive medicinal uses.
Interestingly enough, one such use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is to treat stomach problems, such as nausea and vomiting. However, it may not be the best use for such cases, as there are better, more targeted medicines to treat stomach problems.
In any case, contrary to the study that claims CHS is caused by marijuana legalization, plenty of other separate studies seem to refute those claims.
The report from CBS continues:
“It is certainly something that, before legalization, we almost never saw,” Heard said. “Now we are seeing it quite frequently.”
The article and the study both point to legalization as the root cause of the problem. While it can’t be denied that these patients did exhibit cyclical vomiting, there is no way to definitively link the issue to a law that was passed. In fact, more than anything, this appears to be a hit piece on the legalization effort in an attempt to link a very commonly occurring illness to states that have legalized.
What do you think? Is this study complete nonsense, or do you think CHS is a real phenomenon that is spreading in states that voted for legalization?