Hospital urges caution with cannabis edibles

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BRATTLEBORO — A local health warning issued Friday by Brattleboro Memorial Hospital suggests people use "caution and common sense" when consuming cannabis edibles.

Dr. Alison Kapadia said the Brattleboro Police Department contacted the hospital and asked it to post the warning, which says there have been "multiple serious illnesses."

"It did not originate from the police department, although we were involved in conversations related to it," Brattleboro Police Capt. Mark Carignan said about the warning in an email Tuesday. "We, and other first responders, are frustrated with the lack of regulation in Vermont related to cannabis, both plant and processed form (such as edibles). Consumers often don't know what they are consuming which can lead to health problems and medical crisis."

Carignan said the issue is not an enforcement matter and messages about it should come from health officials.

"I would say in the emergency medicine literature, there has been growing data that marijuana edibles result in a lot of emergency department visits for a couple of reasons," Kapadia said in an interview Tuesday.

She said people sometimes ingest a lot more edibles than they initially plan because they do not realize it can take longer to experience the anticipated effects than it does when smoking marijuana. She estimates smoking can take minutes to feel the

effects, whereas edibles can take an hour or longer. She said each edible can have a lot of variability in terms of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC makeup. She noted that edibles sold at regulated dispensaries generally have "quite low" chances of being contaminated.

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The hospital has not seen a surge in visits from people experiencing side effects from marijuana, Kapadia said.

"In general, a marijuana overdose is not typically dangerous," she said, adding that people get a sense of "disreality" or experience anxiety, nausea or vomiting.

She described the side effect of nausea as ironic as marijuana is used by some to treat that. She advised people be "careful and reasonable" while taking edibles.

Kapadia did warn against vaping.

"I would recommend no vaping of anything but definitely no vaping of CBD or any oil at all," she said, referring to cannabidiol.

She said intensive care units elsewhere in the state have seen cases related to vaping.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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