According to the Quebec Poison Control Centre, cannabis poisoning cases have risen since Canada legalized cannabis in October. The province has released a new ad campaign warning consumers about the associated risks in response to the influx in hospital visits.
From the legalization date of October 17 all the way through December, the center recorded 89 cases whereas only 25 cases were recorded during the same period of the year prior.
“Right now, it’s hard to distinguish whether there is more exposure, more cases of over-intoxication, or simply more people calling because they feel more comfortable now that it’s legal,” said director of the Quebec Poison Control Centre Maude Saint-Onge.
It’s incredibly unlikely that consuming too much cannabis can directly kill someone, and in fact, Health Canada does not even list death as a potential direct risk, but there are some risks when a person consumes too much at one time. Medical experts will refer to over consumption as marijuana poisoning, but in more colloquially terms, it’s referred to as “greening out”. Symptoms include anxiety, paranoia, increased heart rate and blood pressure. It can also result in vomiting and in more extreme cases, hospitalization.
Saint-Onge told sources that the increase in cannabis poisoning cases in the area was enough the they felt public health should be alerted
“If we see a sudden spike, with a specific product or with cannabis in general, we’ll alert public health right away,” she said.
Quebec has invested $1.5 million into its new campaign and the ads feature strange images of youth with long eyelashes, or a long neck with the tagline, “There’s no way cannabis can do this, but the risks are real.” The ads are meant to be directed at young people but they have elicited mockery for being over the top and not making much sense. The province has stated that hallucinatory images are meant to get laughs.
“Our government is committed to making every effort to better protect the public, especially teenagers and young adults, from the harmful effects of cannabis,” said Lionel Carmant, junior minister for health and social services.
“The campaign has been designed to better reach this clientele. Young people are more vulnerable to the real risks of cannabis, although it is now legal,” He said. “Thus, we take effective means to counter the banalization of cannabis and to make our young people more aware of the risks they run when they consume it.”