Cannabis presentations to the emergency department after MVC in the era of legalization for recreational use

Esther K. Choo, Daniel Nishijima, Stacy Trent, Angela Eichelberger, Yu Ye, Ariane Audett, Karen Brasel, Steve Kazmierczak, Cheryl J. Cherpitel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: The objectives of this study were to examine cannabis and alcohol use among injured patients presenting to emergency departments (ED) in cannabis-legal states to capture an expanded profile of cannabis use and evaluate differences in motor-vehicle collision (MVC) characteristics among those using cannabis alone and in combination with alcohol. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of ED visits by drivers in MVC who presented to one of three study sites. Event-related and usual drug and alcohol use information were obtained using a detailed interviewer-administered computerized questionnaire. We also obtained data from blood and breathalyzer tests and the electronic medical record. We examined frequency and types of acute and past-year cannabis and alcohol use and crash mechanisms and characteristics. Our primary method of determining substance use was self-report; we used biosamples secondarily. Results: Eight percent of drivers reported cannabis use in the 8 h prior to MVC, alone or in combination with alcohol; however, a higher proportion (18%) were positive by biosample. High-risk crash features were common in MVCs associated with cannabis, as they were for alcohol use and co-use of cannabis and alcohol; however, patients injured seriously enough to require admission were less likely to report cannabis use (7% vs. 9%) and more likely to report alcohol use (16% vs. 10%). Conclusions: Cannabis use was common among patients presenting after MVC in this sample of cannabis-legal states. Practical Applications: Differences between self-report and biosample data for cannabis and alcohol use were significant and supports the need to use both means of assessing acute use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-348
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Safety Research
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Emergency care
  • Motor vehicle collisions
  • Substance use disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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