A once-rare complication of marijuana use is becoming increasingly common, CBS News’ Jonathan Lapook reports. The condition, called CHS or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, causes abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, and is – for reasons that remain unclear – relieved by hot showers or baths. CHS is associated with heavy, long-term use of marijuana and can lead to dehydration and kidney failure. The syndrome typically resolves within several days of stopping drug use.
CHS has only been recognized for about the past decade. A recent study showed that since 2009, when medical marijuana became widely available, emergency room visits for CHS in two Colorado hospitals have nearly doubled. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012. Other states in which marijuana is legal – Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and most recently, Maine, Massachusetts, California, and Nevada – should probably expect to see a similar rise in emergency room visits for CHS. The condition is so rarely seen outside of Colorado that it often goes undiagnosed, both because doctors don’t know it exists, and also because patients often don’t want to confess to using an illegal substance.
So, please, people, be warned, and warn your pot-smoking friends. Like anything else, marijuana, too, can cause complications when used in excess. And for those of you who are smoking it and would like to continue to do so, remember that an increase in medical illnesses like CHS will do little to further the movement for legalization.