Substance use – legal and illegal – continues to be a big concern in our region and state. A new law passed in 2019, House Bill 1230, recently went into effect allowing cities and counties across Colorado to decide whether they will allow marijuana consumption in public spaces in so-called “marijuana hospitality establishments” or “marijuana lounges.” These lounges are being compared to bars that serve alcohol. The Pueblo County Medical Society recently adopted a position against marijuana lounges and has called upon the city and county to prohibit their operation.
Related is the physician community’s concern about the use of e-cigarette products, or vaping. As of Jan. 8, Colorado has experienced eight outbreak cases and eight hospitalizations of suspected e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury (EVALI). We are not the hardest-hit state: as of Dec. 17, more than 2,500 hospitalized lung injury cases had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control nationally and 54 deaths had been confirmed.
A Jan. 3 bulletin from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) asks physicians to follow updated CDC guidance if e-cigarette or vaping product use is suspected as a possible cause for a patient’s lung injury. The updated guidance recommends post-hospitalization outpatient follow-up, optimally within 48 hours of discharge, and emphasizes the importance of preparation for hospital discharge and post-discharge care coordination to reduce risk of rehospitalization and death among hospitalized EVALI patients. CDPHE asks all providers to report any suspected EVALI cases to the Disease Reporting Line: 303-692-2700 or 303-370-9395 (after hours). If the patient has the product in hand, safely collect and hold it, and contact CDPHE’s Disease Reporting Line so that the product can be collected by CDPHE for potential testing.