Bizarre illness dubbed ‘scromiting’ linked to the rise of more potent cannabis in US

Scromiting has caused for a tightening of laws around cannabis (AFP via Getty)
Scromiting has caused for a tightening of laws around cannabis (AFP via Getty)

Doctors and lawmakers across the US are increasingly concerned about a syndrome believed to be associated with cannabis consumption that can cause psychotic episodes.

The illness is commonly known as “scromiting”, the nickname of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, due to its two main symptoms being screaming and vomiting, according to doctors and patients.

The magazine High Timesdefines it as “a rare form of cannabinoid toxicity that develops in chronic smokers. It’s characterized by cyclic episodes of debilitating nausea and vomiting. People who suffer from the syndrome often find that hot showers relieve their symptoms, and will compulsively bathe during episodes of nausea and vomiting. Symptoms stop after cessation of cannabis use.”

Its increase is thought to be because of the high percentage of THC in modern-day cannabis as it becomes legal for recreational use in more US states.

Dr G Sam Wang, an ER doctor and toxicologist, said to NBC News, “Evidence for how cannabis, especially in higher concentrations, impacts mental health is growing and stronger, especially on how it relates to psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms.”

A study from the Journal of Toxicology in 2017 found that 97 per cent of people who developed ‘scromiting’ used cannabis at least once per week.

Sufferers from the condition have described intense symptoms.

“It felt like Edwards Scissorhands was trying to grab my intestines and pull them out,” Bo Gribbon, 20, who suffered from the illness when he was 17, said to NBC News. “The only thing that convinced me was that it stopped when I stopped smoking.”

Another study, published in 2018 labelled the syndrome “an increasingly prevalent and complicated problem for health care providers and patients”. It also called for further investigation.

Colorado is believed to be one of the states with the highest levels of diagnosis. Some doctors put this down to the state legalising cannabis for recreational uses in 2012. In Colorado, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase cannabis.

Despite the age restrictions, teenagers, such as Jasmine Block, 18, told NBC News about how easy it was to get cannabis from dealers and so on. She said in she found it “so easy to get your hands on”.

Other states, such as California, have also experienced issues with the condition, according to reporting by NPR.

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