The Fears Surrounding Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and Marijuana Use

Any kind of vomiting syndrome, whether cyclic, chronic or random does not sound like a good time at all. For some reason, there is a lot of talk of a particular vomiting syndrome that may be caused by marijuana use.

Education is necessary with marijuana, which means the cannabis industry needs more research conducted, which of course is very slow because the federal government has handcuffed researchers. Ignorance is one of the biggest catalysts for fear, if people are mentally prepared for what can happen then they tend to take it better when it actually happens. The lack of knowledge surrounding cannabis has led to a lot of assumptions and drawn conclusions. Have you researched cannabis to any real degree?

By all accounts, DARE—the acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, an anti-drug education program founded in 1983 and, for a time, taught in up to 75 percent of American middle and high schools—doesn’t work: Students who’ve undergone the program are just as likely to use drugs as those who haven’t, and may be even more likely to drink or smoke cigarettes. That said: DARE definitely worked on me. As a high-school student the only thing I feared more than sex was drugs. Though I drank plenty in college, I refused to even be in the same room as marijuana (let alone everything else my classmates were doing). I held out until I was 24, and then I only smoked pot because a man hurt my feelings badly enough that I was willing to risk … death, or whatever else I thought was going to happen to me, in order not to feel them. But I was fine, like I have been fine every time I’ve smoked since, which hasn’t been that much, I swear. I stopped worrying, for the most part, until recently, when I first read about something called “cyclic vomiting syndrome,” and how smoking weed could cause it.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome is, I think, the best and worst clinical term for a condition that I’ve ever heard. Most clinical terms somewhat obscure the grossness of the thing described (think “incontinence” for diarrhea), but not cyclic vomiting syndrome (or CVS). It is pretty clear, pretty immediately, that what you are in for here is nonstop puking, in episodes lasting anywhere from a few hours to several days at a time. The exact cause is unknown, though there are a number of factors thought to contribute: emotional stress (particularly in children), hot weather, overeating, fatigue, migraines. A diagnosis of CVS is most common among young children, though the number of diagnoses among adults is increasing—and one of the reasons for that increase may be pot.

A study published in 2012 found that marijuana use may be as high as 40 to 50 percent among male CVS patients. (While studies show that the typical patient for CVS linked to marijuana use is a middle-aged white man, women and minorities are also susceptible.) Uncontrollable vomiting as a result of marijuana use is also sometimes referred to as “cannibinoid hyperemesis syndrome.” But some researchers say CHS should be considered a subset of CVS, and one literature review states that the “only reliable criterion” to distinguish the two is whether the symptoms completely stop after the person stops smoking. The two conditions are otherwise “clinically extremely similar, the researchers write.

So, because I fear throwing up about as much as I fear drugs, I decided to speak to a medical professional to find out how likely it is that the average casual pot smoker will develop CVS.

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