A HIGH SO LOW –
June 23, 2022 – This was not your average weed. The oil and waxes she bought from dealers were typically about 90% THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. But because these products were derived from cannabis, and nearly everyone she knew was using them, she assumed they were relatively safe. She began vaping multiple times per day. Her parents did not find out until about one year later, in 2019.
“We got her in a program to help her with it. We tried tough love. We tried everything, to be honest with you,” Elysse’s father said of her addiction.
Starting in 2020, she began having mysterious bouts of illness during which she would throw up over and over again. At first, she and her parents — and even her doctors — were baffled. During one episode, Elysse said, she threw up in a mall bathroom for an hour. “I felt like my body was levitating.”
Another time, she estimated that she threw up at least 20 times in the span of two hours.
It was not until 2021, after a half-dozen trips to the emergency room for stomach illness, including some hospital stays, that a gastroenterologist diagnosed her with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that causes recurrent vomiting in heavy marijuana users.
Although recreational cannabis is illegal in the United States for those younger than 21, it has become more accessible as many states have legalized it. But experts say today’s high-THC cannabis products — vastly different from the joints smoked decades ago — are poisoning some heavy users, including teenagers.