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There's New Science Linking Marijuana to Uncontrollable Vomiting

hand holding cannabis cigarette

More people are in the emergency room for uncontrollable vomiting, also known as cyclical vomiting syndrome (CVS), following marijuana legalization, according to a new study.

According to the analysis published Friday in JAMA Network Open and sponsored by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Colorado has seen over 800,000 emergency room reports of vomiting between 2013 and 2018, a 29 percent uptick since the state legalized marijuana. The study also found that more than a third of the vomiting cases were in people under the age of 25.

Reviewing 820,778 patients in Colorado emergency departments, this study connected cannabis legalization with an increase in vomiting-related health care visits. This increase was seen primarily in Colorado counties without existing medical dispensaries prior to legalization.

This analysis suggested the vomiting is a symptom of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), a condition marked by uncontrollable vomiting after cannabis use and usually occurs in long-term marijuana users. A 2020 study in Neurogastroenterology and Motility also found that 1 in 5 sufferers of cyclic vomiting syndrome were regular cannabis users.

Marijuana ironically has been used as an anti-nausea aid for those undergoing chemotherapy, where up to 75 percent experiencing it get nausea or vomiting.

A bizarre side effect of CHS: The intense urge to take hot showers or baths. Previously reported by Men's Health, this behavior was seen in 9 out of 10 of the long-term sufferers in a 2004 Australian study—with them “often waking at night to perform it."

Authors of the Colorado study hope that the findings raise awareness of CHS and "may help ensure accurate public health surveillance on consequences associated with cannabis legalization."
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