Cannabis in Illinois

Illinois Poison Center Says an Increase in Calls Likely After Cannabis Legalization

For the first 12 days of the year, there were 11 cases of marijuana-only exposures in Illinois reported to the Illinois Poison Center. But what does that mean?

Cannabis plants

The Illinois Poison Center anticipates an increase in calls after the experience of other states who have previously legalized recreational marijuana.

Since cannabis legalization in Illinois more than two weeks ago, marijuana-only exposures have more than doubled from four cases in 2019 to 11 in 2020.

IPC Vice President of Communications Danny Chun said it will take several months before the center has a good handle on what's going on for several reasons.

Chun said adverse events are rare on a population-rate basis and will take some time for uptake of cannabis use to saturate market/communities to generate calls to IPC.  Many of the adverse events are usually due to chronic use and won't be seen right away.

"A day to day measure does not mean much; however, a trend over months may be more informative," he added.

The IPC is a resource for both the public and healthcare providers for untoward reactions or effects to marijuana use.  The IPC is monitoring the situation, including partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to track any increase in calls to the center due to cannabis consumption, and is similarly partnering with IDPH and CDPH to track any potential increases in emergency room visits, according to Chun.

Chun credited the Illinois Department of Health with advice to cannabis users to "start low and go slow," meaning to start with a low dosage and slowly increase cannabis use to be safe.

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