Researchers at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) say they are the first to conduct a statewide analysis of the effects of cannabis and synthetic cannabis use as it related to deaths blamed on the substance.
FAU researchers say 200 million people use cannabis worldwide and found that by Jan. 27, 788,297 people in Florida had medical cannabis cards.
Researchers say little is known about deaths related to the use of cannabinoids.
Armiel Suriaga, a senior author on the study and an assistant professor in FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing said, “Synthetic cannabinoids are part of the new psychoactive substances that are two to 100 times more potent than THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana."
Suriaga said, “Synthetic cannabinoids are manufactured chemicals sprayed onto dried, shredded leaves or plant materials that mimic the effect of cannabis, but their actual effects are unpredictable, harmful and deadly.”
The study found that around 28% of deaths blamed on the use of cannabis and synthetic cannabis were in people aged 45 to 54, with 9% between the ages of 8 to 24.
13% of deaths were related to cardiac conditions like hypertensive heart disease connected to high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias as well as an enlarged heart.
The study released some key findings that included:
- Researchers said almost 88% of deaths from cannabis and synthetic cannabis were in men.
- The study said that 100% of cannabis-related deaths happened in counties classified as "urban" in the state of Florida.
- The study found that in rural areas of the state of Florida nearly 30% of deaths were related to the use of synthetic cannabis while nearly 40% of deaths were in African American users.