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As more state laws shift to allow medicinal and recreational cannabis use, an unexpected but serious side effect has surfaced: more patients presenting in the emergency department with physical or psychological symptoms of overdose from using marijuana or commercial cannabis products.

And the problem isn’t limited to one type of patient or consumption.

It’s a wider issue with many root causes and implications for providers, says Christopher Blazes, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and emergency medicine at Michigan Medicine.

“The cannabis of today is not the cannabis of 10, 20 or 40 years ago,” says Blazes, who saw a rise in intoxication cases at a previous hospital job in San Francisco and has noted an increase in similar cases in Michigan since recreational marijuana was legalized in the state in late 2018.