Boston, Colo. officials talk marijuana worries

A marijuana joint is rolled Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in San Francisco. Prop 64 legalizing marijuana for recreational use passed in California.
–Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Will Massachusetts hospitals be swamped by patients who’ve had a bad experience with pot? What about teens? Will they be more likely to use marijuana now that Massachusetts voters have approved recreational use?

With recreational marijuana set to become legal next month, concerns about the drugs’ effect on a wide swath of life have gained urgency, prompting Boston health officials Wednesday to seek guidance from their counterparts in Colorado, among the first states to legalize the drug.

Colorado has experienced a significant jump in patients seeking emergency medical treatment for complications related to suspected marijuana use since 2014, when the state legalized the drug for commercial sales, according to a presentation by Denver health officials. Still, marijuana-related emergency department visits represent less than 1 percent of all ER visits, said the officials, who shared their experiences and lessons learned during a phone call with the Boston Public Health Commission.

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As states weigh whether to legalize marijuana, one of the most contentious issues is whether legalization increases adolescent use. Colorado’s experience offers no definitive answer.

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