Reefer Madness?

It might sound like a scene from a horror film, but emergency medicine physicians at UC Davis Medical Center report seeing young, often college-age patients come in once or twice a day vomiting multiple times an hour and screaming uncontrollably.

“They keep moaning, shouting and yelling after they vomit. It’s very dramatic. It sounds like someone is dying,” Dr. John Richards, an emergency medicine physician and professor at UC Davis told the Sacramento Bee.

The diagnosis came from a 2004 study when Australian doctors identified a connection between daily marijuana smoking and recurring episodes of vomiting and abdominal pain.

The condition is known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or more simply CHS, and doctors believe it’s caused when cannabinoids in marijuana — a chemical that bonds to receptors in the central nervous system — bombard neurotransmitters, causing an imbalance in the body’s regulatory system. The physical pain and psychological stress of resulting repeated vomiting can send people into the hospital writhing and screaming.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has seen increased occurrences of the condition since the legalization of marijuana. Not a single case has been reported after ingesting edibles, however. The reason is likely do to the fact that eating marijuana releases cannabinoids at a much slower rate.

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