Incidents of cannabis poisoning in the Canadian province of Quebec have more than tripled since marijuana was legalized for recreational use, according to the local poison center, who have filed a report with the public health department.
The group has announced 89 recorded cases of marijuana poisoning between October and December of 2018, compared to 25 cases in the same time frame the previous year, according to CBC.
The symptoms of marijuana poisoning are characterized by a similarity to alcohol poisoning: high heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, vomiting, and occasionally psychosis severe enough to require hospitalization. However, unlike alcohol poisoning, it is not simply caused by consuming too much of the drug.
Health officials say they're moving away from the term "cannabis overdose," for fear that it is too synonymous with a fatal overdose. The reason behind the rise in marijuana poisoning is unclear at this time, but Maude Saint-Onge, director of the Poison Control Center, has a few theories.
"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," she said.
"If we see a sudden spike, with a specific product or with cannabis in general, we'll alert public health right away," she added.
Marijuana was initially made legal in Quebec to purchase for residents over 18, which later changed a few months later when the age limit was upped to 21.
Government-controlled cannabis dispensaries are permitted to sell wide varieties of the drug, but residents are prohibited from smoking it in certain areas that prohibit tobacco smoking, such as outdoor play areas for children. It has been legal for medical use since 2001.