Statement of purpose In January 2014, retail marijuana facilities opened for business in the state of Colorado. The medicinal qualities of marijuana make injury prevention efforts more complicated than those for tobacco and alcohol. This presentation will discuss the public health response by Colorado’s Violence and Injury Prevention Branch and its partners to potential injury concerns including youth poisoning/unintentional consumption and adult overconsumption, driving under the influence of marijuana, hash-oil explosions, and ski-related injury.
Methods/Approach Preliminary data collected show an approximate 50% rise in rates of both marijuana-related hospital admissions and emergency department visits comparing 2010–2013 rates to the first six months of 2014. Additionally, poison control centre calls increased approximately 50% following non-medical marijuana’s entrance into the retail market. In response, state public health engaged stakeholders in a variety of approaches, including surveillance quality improvement to identify potential causes of the rise in marijuana reporting in hospitals, policy changes, education campaigns and other strategies to prevent unintentional poisoning and injury resulting from retail marijuana use.
Results Some of the recent public health successes include regulatory changes to limit the edible dosage, changes to childproof packaging and labelling of edibles, identification of documented health effects of marijuana supported in research, and mass reach education campaigns on safe storage. Challenges continue, including marijuana-impaired driving data collection. Hash-oil extractions have been traced to 26 explosions and related injuries in the first six months of 2014. A pilot project with a hospital serving ski resorts is underway to assess marijuana-related ski injury.
Conclusions The data and community concern over the initial rise in injuries caused by unintentional marijuana consumption and related impairment in youth and adults spurred the need for a public health response. State public health facilitates cooperative relationships across state and industry partners allowing responsive and effective change to state policy and supporting mass reach media campaigns to address public concern.
Significance and contribution to the field Participants in this session will learn about the public health role in the era of retail marijuana: 1) potential impacts of retail marijuana on diverse injury outcomes, 2) strategic partnerships and relationships across Colorado state agencies and industry partners, 3) educational opportunities and messaging to prevent injury cause by over- and unintentional marijuana use.
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