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Marijuana can also cause vomiting, make kids sick

Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 7:02 PM
Last updated 10:18 PM
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Marijuana has long been known for its anti-nausea, appetite-stimulating effects, which in part has led 20 states to allow its medical use.

Larry Mellick, an emergency medicine physician at Georgia Regents University, said the number of people affected by cyclic vomiting from marijuana use appears to be growing in Augusta.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Larry Mellick, an emergency medicine physician at Georgia Regents University, said the number of people affected by cyclic vomiting from marijuana use appears to be growing in Augusta.

In some chronic users, however, it can have an opposite effect and cause constant vomiting and abdominal pain, and the number of people affected appears to be growing in Augusta, says an emergency medicine physician at Georgia Regents University.

States that have decriminalized it also have a much higher rate of accidental ingestion by children, who then get sick, a recent study found.

A bill has been introduced in the Georgia Legislature that would allow medical marijuana in very limited circumstances, using a cannabidiol oil for people with seizure disorders, according to the Web site of one of its main sponsors, Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, who refused a request for an interview Thursday.

In other states, marijuana can be used for a wide variety of problems, and in Colorado and Washington state it is cleared for recreational use.

Those states that decriminalized the drug saw a 30 percent increase per year from 2005 to 2011 in calls to poison control centers concerning children age 9 or younger sickened by accidentally ingesting marijuana, usually by eating a marijuana-laced food product, according to a study published this week in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Many of these products, such as brownies or candies, are indistinguishable from normal products but can contain high levels of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, the study stated.

“We are concerned that kids are potentially getting into these things that have high amounts of THC and they can potentially develop some symptoms that we’re not traditionally thinking about when it comes to marijuana exposures in kids,” said George S. Wang, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Many of those products are not meant to be multiple servings but a small child won’t know any differently, he said.

“Some of these products are quite concentrated, quite potent,” Wang said.

After seeing evidence of accidental exposure with some hospitalizations, the Colorado Legislature moved to require recreational marijuana products be put into child-resistant packaging, a move that Wang said other states should take note of.

Even in adults, frequent chronic use of marijuana can result in a condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or cyclic vomiting and abdominal pain. It was first described in Australia in 2004, and since then more than 100 case reports in the U.S. have been reported; still, many physicians just don’t know about it, said Dr. Larry Mellick, a professor of emergency medicine at GRU and Georgia Regents Medical Center.

“It is not on everybody’s radar just yet,” he said.

He told of a patient last week who had been to the ER seven times before Mellick saw her, with several tests and scans that proved negative before she got the right diagnosis.

“And this is typical,” he said. “Every patient I’ve seen here has had multiple visits in ERs around the CSRA. They’ve had CT scans, they’ve had lab tests, they’ve had ultrasounds. Repeatedly, nothing shows up. It’s consistently negative. And the diagnosis just isn’t being made.”

Many of the patients find temporary relief by taking hot showers or baths, and for some that becomes a compulsion that can aid in getting their diagnosis. Anti-nausea drugs seem to work only short-term, but Mellick said that he has found giving them the drug Haldol helps relieve abdominal pain and vomiting and that others found success with the drug Ativan.

Abstaining from marijuana ultimately seems to relieve their symptoms, Mellick said.

Exactly why some patients would develop the problem is largely unknown, although there are lots of theories. THC affects receptors in the brain and stomach, and although one might cause an anti-nausea effect it might be reversed in the long-term by stimulation of the other.

One case report stated that although marijuana has been smoked for thousands of years, its potency might be much higher now. It pointed to research at the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project of seized marijuana in which THC levels had increased from 3.4 percent in 1993 to 8.8 percent in 2008.

Mellick said that the anti-nausea and vomiting properties are well-known but that there are number of other metabolites in marijuana that can accumulate in the body and might exert a toxic effect, particularly in people who might be genetically susceptible to it. The problem would be if an already nauseated patient, such as one on chemotherapy, turns to the drug and gets the opposite effect in the long-term, Mellick said.

“Now the treatment they were hoping would make them feel better is actually complicating their illness even more,” he said.

What the syndrome points out is that there is a real lack of good research on marijuana, Mellick and Wang said.

“I think there is a lot we don’t know about marijuana, both the good and the bad,” Wang said. “I think as more states pass legislation and the use goes up, we’re going to be finding out more of the short- and long-term consequences, both good and bad, of medical and recreational marijuana. I think there are a lot more questions than answers at this point.”

With at least three cases of cyclic vomiting from heavy marijuana use in the past month, however, Mellick says he might be spotting a trend.

“I think there may be an upswing potentially happening,” he said.

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itsanotherday1
43297
Points
itsanotherday1 02/07/14 - 01:35 am
2
1
I still don't understand why

I still don't understand why the active ingredients can't be delivered by some method other than smoking a joint. Medical MJ is just getting the camel's nose under the tent, paving the way for general legalization. (which I am not opposed to btw; given the right controls)

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/07/14 - 07:07 am
4
4
There are many difference

There are many difference ways of delivering the active ingredients. The article went over them (i.e. brownies and candies), you can also consume liquids with the active ingredients.

The problem is that most people who LOVE to get high, aren't the most responsible human beings in the world!! When they're high, they aren't thinking "Oh, I left the brownies on the counter". So, then you have these idiots leaving a stack of marijuana brownies for their children to consume, get sick and possibly even die!!

Maybe they should pass the law that only adults with no children in the home may possess it!! I just find it so ridiculous that people feel the need to get high!! I don't want my mind all screwed up, where I can't think clearly!!

But, it's not my business what other's want to do and I personally believe marijuana is not near as bad as alcohol in large quantities, so I'm certainly not against this!!

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 02/07/14 - 07:40 am
0
0
Where's the comparison to
Unpublished

Where's the comparison to alcohol? Much more dangerous than pot, kids have better access to it. This is just another propaganda letter. Pot needs to just be fully legalized.

nanowerx
1325
Points
nanowerx 02/07/14 - 08:30 am
6
3
Trash article with an agenda

This is such a hit piece on Marijuana. Whenever the phrase "what about the kids?" comes in to play, you know you are about to read an agenda that doesn't have real facts behind it. Oh no, people might get tummy aches, better keep pot illegal. Oh no, kids might get into it, better keep it from them like we do alcohol, cigarettes and guns.....oh wait.

stuaby
3902
Points
stuaby 02/07/14 - 08:46 am
5
1
I wouldn't worry if I were you nanowerx

Before you know it you'll be able to fire it up right here in Georgia w/o having to worry about the police taking you downtown. Inside 5 years of allowing "medical" mj, you'll be able to blow one to your friends George Clinton-Glenn Goins style, right there on your front porch.

Oh BTW, the guy that introduced the "medical" mary jane bill used kids as props also, so it works both ways.

Anticipatory theme song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWK-9qj1sJc

corgimom
32600
Points
corgimom 02/07/14 - 09:00 am
1
5
"Abstaining from marijuana

"Abstaining from marijuana ultimately seems to relieve their symptoms, Mellick said"

Hey, ya think?

stuaby
3902
Points
stuaby 02/07/14 - 09:04 am
8
2
What the labels on the

What the labels on the packaging might say once they legalize this:

"May cause vomiting, abdominal pain, voracious appetite, laziness, lack of ambition, lack of focus, stupidity, job loss and poverty. Seek medical help for chronic stupidity lasting more than 20 years. Ask your doctor if you're already too stupid for marijuanal activity."

GiantsAllDay
9595
Points
GiantsAllDay 02/07/14 - 09:18 am
3
2
MyFather15, Good comment

MyFather15,
Good comment today. Thumbs up for you.

Mr. Thackeray
911
Points
Mr. Thackeray 02/07/14 - 09:36 am
1
4
I don't get it, O' said it

I don't get it, O' said it was okay!

redfish
640
Points
redfish 02/07/14 - 09:55 am
5
1
This could be bad...

If drugs that have unpleasant side effects are made illegal, we could lose many of the drugs in the medicine cabinet. I don't know if the author is aware or not, but morphine and other opiates in too great a quantity can actually KILL someone! I have also heard that narcotics can be addicting. Chemotherapy drugs cause all sorts of unpleasant side effects too. We better get rid of these dangerous drugs immediately.

I have never smoked marijuana in my life, but I can't imagine it has done any more harm to society than alcohol and the last time I checked, too much alcohol can make someone vomit as well. I imagine the irony of a group of people discussing the evils of legal marijuana over a few drinks at a cocktail party.

itsanotherday1
43297
Points
itsanotherday1 02/07/14 - 11:18 am
3
1
redfish, good point on

redfish, good point on alcohol. I guarantee you there is not a "drinker" alive who hasn't heaved at some point after drinking too much.

itsanotherday1
43297
Points
itsanotherday1 02/07/14 - 11:18 am
1
0
*

*

Bizkit
31505
Points
Bizkit 02/07/14 - 12:05 pm
1
3
Halcyon organics is a medical

Halcyon organics is a medical pot advocacy group Their website states it is legal in Georgia:A well-regulated medical marijuana program will benefit Georgia in ways similar to The HOPE Scholarship Program. We will lead by example to get the ball rolling. Using Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Program as a model, we identify and qualify Georgia patients who will benefit from medical marijuana therapy. If our board certified M.D. believes that our client may benefit from medical marijuana, we provide medical marijuana to our client. This is a free service we provide to our community.

We dispense the medical marijuana in full compliance with GA Code 43-34-120 and under the well-established precedent of civil disobedience.

Georgia created a medical marijuana program in 1980. It is GA Code 43-34-120. Georgia did not implement the state medical marijuana program because Federal policy prohibited it at the time. The Federal Government now permits state medical marijuana programs as long as they are well-regulated and taxed.

Bizkit
31505
Points
Bizkit 02/07/14 - 12:15 pm
1
0
I remember back in the day I

I remember back in the day I had two friends who would throw up every time they smoked. I told them I wouldn't do it if it made me sick. It never stopped them from smoking. They lamented every time you eat peyote buttons you throw up too but didn't stop anyone from getting off of them either. I find it difficult to relate to my mindset that long ago-it would terrify me to do any of that again. So funny many of these dope smoking, coke, LSD, quaalude abusing folks grew up to be mayors, preachers, lawyers, judges, bankers, educators, law enforcement such Sheriff and Chief of Police, etc.

Sweet son
10415
Points
Sweet son 02/07/14 - 12:23 pm
1
1
Watch video of a sick marihuana patient.

Search 'Larry Mellick' on Youtube.

nocnoc
42692
Points
nocnoc 02/07/14 - 01:30 pm
3
1
How many trillions has the Taxpayers spent for the war on DRUGS?

Marijuana has been a recreational mood smoother for 1000's of years.
So has several other socially acceptable mood adjusters.

YES we need Stiff Drug laws for Hard Drugs. LAWS with serious teeth and Death Penalty Enforcement.

But Face it, the War on Drugs has just become another way for Washington to justify spending a lot of $$$$ and having a perpetual war that never ends.

SO why not look at the drug problem realistically?
Would not the War of drugs $$$ be better spent truthfully educating (no Reefer Madness stuff) and treating those addicted to Hard Drugs.

Yes I still stand by the Death Penalty for any Hard Addictive drug dealer.

But I have read reports that treatment and not locking up some dim witted, weak willed addictive personality, person has shown to be the better solution.

In short
Treatment, reduces drug related crimes, reduced crime means safer communities and lower police budgets and insurance costs.

Too many of us have blogged that sending someone to Prison usually means they come out a better educated criminal.

Just like Alcohol, prescription med's and pain, there are people than can and cannot handle somethings.

stuaby
3902
Points
stuaby 02/07/14 - 02:20 pm
2
0
Whatever...

@ 1 - 10 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrxl1vvPfYM
Coming to a kid near you.

Tom Corwin
9548
Points
Tom Corwin 02/07/14 - 01:57 pm
2
0
myfather15

Just to clarify for you, only a few of the nearly 1,000 reports included children who needed aggressive treatment, such as untubation. The majority did not need treatment at all and there were no deaths reported.

internationallyunknown
4211
Points
internationallyunknown 02/07/14 - 02:03 pm
2
0
Jah Bless!

Jah Bless!

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/07/14 - 02:59 pm
2
1
Nanowerx

I must agree with you!! That's why I was suspicious of Obama using children as props, to advocate gun control!!! The only gun control I'm interested in is hitting my target!!

Hey, did you know Hitler used children as props for gun control as well?? Sure did!!

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/07/14 - 03:01 pm
2
1
Tom Corwin

I understand, and that's good information.

I wasn't talking about past actual events, I was more talking about people in the future, getting high and leaving the "goods" out where children can get to it. I also said "possibly" even die. I realize, it would take a LOT of marijuana to kill them, but it's still possible.

internationallyunknown
4211
Points
internationallyunknown 02/07/14 - 04:26 pm
2
0
Can anyone list ONE TIME in

Can anyone list ONE TIME in history where someone died from marijuana alone?

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 02/07/14 - 06:01 pm
1
2
C'mon man!! Just google it!!

C'mon man!! Just google it!! There have been FEW compare to other drugs, but there have been marijuana poisoning deaths!! There have also been numerous marijuana DUI crashes, killed people!

Tom Corwin
9548
Points
Tom Corwin 02/07/14 - 06:39 pm
2
0
Internationallyunknown

That was an intriguing question so I did a quick search of the scientific literature on PubMed. There doesn't seem to be a lot of research linking marijuana exposure by itself to fatal poisonings, although obviously it would be possible if you ate enough of it. This is a problem in dogs, by the way. A 2009 review of the drugs found at autopsy showed the most likely drug to show up was alcohol and marijunana was near the bottom at 15th, behind some well-known prescription drugs like Celexa (third on the list), Valium (no.4), and Zoloft (no. 14). Acetaminophen was the second most likely drug to be found.

internationallyunknown
4211
Points
internationallyunknown 02/09/14 - 12:15 pm
0
0
Thanks, Tom!

Thanks, Tom!

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