Fact Or Myth: Is “Scromiting” Real Among Weed Users?
Estimated 5-minute read
Recently, Twitter and a lot of other sites on the Internet exploded in jokes and memes when journalist Eve Simmons tweeted, in a thread about the medical consequences about weed consumption, that the youth of California was going through the sweep of a mysterious cannabis-derived illness supposedly called “scromiting”: young potheads vomiting and screaming in pain, “for weeks on end” thanks to heavy weed use.
However, beyond the laughs and dunking on a (let’s be honest) very funny word for a condition that sounds really serious otherwise, we consider that it is also important to look into things to know if the newest cannabis scare has any merit to it. After all, legalization and social acceptance of weed is still very new in most places, so if we want this attitude to keep growing, having the diligence to look into things to see if they hold a kernel of truth is important. So in the interest of keeping the cannabis community safe, here at HØJ we’ll look into the myths and facts of scromiting, and see if there is something here we should worry about.
Let’s check out that article
Of course, the first step if to learn what people (and in this case, this article) says about the new normal of cannabis, is the checking the claims it does, and the first thing that jumps out is that this piece of reporting doesn’t actually links or shows any of the actual research of the negative side-effects of weed, citing vague studies from well-known academic institutions at most.
This is already a red flag, because the kinds of figures the article conjures (like “In California, hospital admissions for cannabis-related complications have shot up – from 1,400 in 2005 to 16,000 by 2019”), have no way of being confirmed by the reader, so every bit of information should be taken with a grain of salt; they could be true, they could be not, or they could have a bit of nuance lost in citing those studies.
With that in mind, though, the article gives us a tidbit of information, which is the thing we are most interested about: “Regular use of quantities above ten per cent are linked to a higher risk of addiction, violent behavior and a newly recognized condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or ‘scromiting’”.
The article goes on to say that “scromiting” is becoming more and more common in the state of California, with daily patients suffering from bouts of this mystery illness, and no known cure to it, besides ceasing the consumption of cannabis entirely, which is pretty convenient for the point the article is trying to make: that cannabis is a dangerous substance to try. And although we potheads are used to scaremongering and PSAs talking about the evils of weed, sometimes even a broken clock is right twice a day…
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome: An issue to watch out
Yes, dear reader, scromiting is real, and taking measures to avoid suffering from it is very important to keep yourself, and the cannabis community, safe. And again, we have the responsibility to remind you that HØJ is not a professional medical blog, so any information you get from here should be corroborated with your doctor, and if you ever feel anything out of the ordinary when you consume weed, you should go to your nearest hospital ASAP. With that in mind, let’s look at the facts we have.
The cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or scromiting, is shockingly not something new: an early report from 2004 (which you can check out here) was already looking into severe cases of pain and gastrointestinal distress among weed users. The sample used in the study was small, just 9 valid subjects out of 19, but 7 of them ceased to suffer from “scromiting” after halting their cannabis use.
However, patients with this condition were rare, but what is true is that cases of CHS have begun to rise in places with a more easy access to cannabis, and a more recent study from the University of New York (which you can read here) has noted that up to a third of heavy cannabis users has reported bouts of scromiting that stop when halting the consumption of weed, especially among younger users.
“Current diagnostic criteria of CHS includes severe, cyclic nausea and vomiting, frequent hot water bathing to relieve symptoms, elimination of symptoms upon cannabis cessation, epigastric or periumbilical abdominal pain”, informs that same study about the most common symptoms of scromiting, and the worst cases can end up in kidney failure, or even death.
Should I be worried?
Yes and no, depending on where you fall on the spectrum of cannabis consumers. There’s some key bits of information here that you should keep in mind if you partake in weed consumption, and the first of all is that this condition shows up frequently on heavy users of pot; the 2018 study included patients between 18 and 49 years old that reported the use of cannabis at least 20 days a month.
Such levels of consumption, in consequence, would build up a higher tolerance in your body, likely pushing users to seek more potent doses of THC to get their normal high, and with a more abundant access to weed, suddenly finding yourself suffering from scromiting is getting more common. So if you are one of these types of users, and you have gone through mild symptoms of vomiting and abdominal pain, you should stop using weed immediately and consult a doctor.
The hobby of cannabis can be awesome, as weed is a very versatile plant with tons of benefits for the user, but as with everything else (like sugar, video games, or coffee, to name some examples), moderation is key to enjoy this pastime without any bad side-effects. Especially for younger users that might not be very experienced when using pot, getting information from a trustworthy source, keeping tabs of your THC consumption, and going to the doctor if any negative effects arise is something the weed community should preach, as it would make our lifestyle as safe and welcoming as it can be. So if you have “scromited” before, you use weed pretty much daily, and your highs aren’t what they used to be, consult a professional and take care of yourself.