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After legalization, most CO marijuana users tried new products, over half experienced unexpected high

Recreational marijuana use has been legal in Colorado since 2012. A new study examined the relationship between trying new marijuana or hashish products, including edibles, and experiencing unexpected highs (stronger or longer highs than expected) during the first year of legal retail marijuana sales. Respondents were a convenience sample of 634 Colorado adults who reported past-year marijuana use. In an online survey, 71.4% of respondents reported using new cannabis products and 53.6% reported consuming edibles in the past year. Over half of respondents (55.4%) reported experiencing an unexpected high, during which 44.3% of them felt paranoid, 23.2% had a panic attack, 21.6% had a hallucination, and 8.1% went to a hospital, clinic, or emergency room. The most common response to an unexpected high was going to sleep (87.9% of respondents). The odds of experiencing an unexpected high more than doubled among those who had tried a new product, compared to those who had not. Use of edibles was associated with a 1.5 times greater odds of experiencing an unexpected high.

Take away: During the first year of legal retail marijuana sales, 70% of past-year marijuana users tried a new cannabis product and half used an edible, both of which were associated with significantly greater odds of experiencing an unexpected high. Colleges in states that recently legalized retail marijuana sales should prepare for students trying new products and potentially having adverse experiences while high.

Citation: Allen J, Davis K, Duke J, et al. (2017) New product trial, use of edibles, and unexpected highs among marijuana and hashish users in Colorado. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 44-47

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