Cannabis Legalization in Canada will Minimally Impact Emergency Departments

Planning capacity for mental health and addiction services in the emergency department- a discrete-event simulation approach

In summary

A study published in June of 2019 has revealed the forecast for emergency department visits based on the current opioid crisis in Canada and the legalization of cannabis. Researchers observed an increase in the number of emergency department visits at hospitals in Canada, specifically for mental health addiction complaints. It was determined that the opioid crisis will continue to cause issues for emergency departments but that the legalization of cannabis will cause a minimal amount of issues due to the low-risk of addiction. While forecasting the effects of addiction-related emergencies researchers determined that there would be increased waiting times and the length of stay will deteriorate. It is recommended that Psychiatric Emergency Service Units increase their number of beds and that programs aimed at preventing alcohol and opioid addiction will be especially helpful for managing the future influx of patients. 

The opioid crisis is ravaging more than just the emergency rooms in Canada, extending all over North America. Opioids are incredibly dangerous considering their high risk of addiction, often leading to people illegally obtaining opioids or other illicit drugs like heroin. Opioids most commonly act on µ-opioid receptors which affect the reward pathway in the central nervous system, preventing pain and convincing the body that opioids are a great substance. Some doctors are all too willing to overprescribe opioids for chronic pain or during recovery periods leading many to begin their lifelong addiction. Considering the economic cost of dealing with addicts, the emotional cost to families and caretakers, and the promise of cannabis as an anti-nociceptive, the federal government should seriously consider rescheduling cannabis so that it can be more seriously considered as an adjunct or replacement therapy for pain.

The study is available for review or download here

View more studies like this in the CED Foundation Archive 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDCannabis Legalization in Canada will Minimally Impact Emergency Departments

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