The number of people being hospitalised after smoking spice, weed and other cannabinoids has increased more than fivefold since the start of the decade.
Cases include people admitted with mental and behavioural disorders due to use of the drugs, as well as people suffering other adverse effects.
The NHS said that figures are rounded to the nearest five to “protect patient confidentiality”.
However, they show an increase in admissions compared to 2017/18 – when there were an estimated 1,485 cases – and mark the highest total since 2010-11 when 310 cases were recorded.
The figures also include secondary diagnoses – meaning cases when the drug wasn’t the main reason the patient was in the hospital, but still had an affect on their treatment.
Sunderland CCG saw the highest number of cases last year – 330 – followed by South Tees (300)
Peter Reynolds, president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform said: “The figures don’t differentiate between cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids – in other words, spice.
“As we all know the harms and incidents around spice are massive compared to cannabis.
“It’s actually dozens of highly dangerous toxic drugs which can cause severe health problems – which cannabis simply doesn’t.
“The only reason that spice has become popular is because when it was initially available it wasn’t illegal, and cannabis was.
“The root cause of all of this is the prohibition of cannabis. Our insane drugs policy that takes a substance 114 times less dangerous than alcohol, criminalises people who uses it, and funds a 6bn pound criminal market from which all sorts of other consequential much nastier harms flow.
“I’m not saying cannabis is harmless – certainly children shouldn’t be using it – however the difference between having three pints a night or a bit of cannabis is the difference between tiddlywinks and base jumping.”
Across England as a whole, people were admitted to hospital 33,364 times last year because of cannabinoids.
That’s up by 6% on the figure for 2017/18 – and is the highest figure recorded since at least 2007/08, when only 5,934 cases were recorded.
The figure has increased every year since then.
The NHS said that apparent increases in activity may be due to improved recording of diagnosis or procedure information.
Hospital admissions due to Mental and behavioural disorders due to use of cannabinoids / cannabis derivatives
|NHS DURHAM DALES, EASINGTON AND SEDGEFIELD||*||*||*||*||*||6||11||*||10|
|NHS NORTH DURHAM||26||41||74||79||87||108||131||155||205|
|NHS HARTLEPOOL AND STOCKTON-ON-TEES||44||38||48||53||61||88||135||170||170|
|NHS SOUTH TEES||53||93||115||136||134||206||249||320||300|
|NHS SOUTH TYNESIDE||22||39||39||40||42||75||91||80||110|
|NHS NEWCASTLE GATESHEAD||–||–||–||–||–||176||164||225||230|
|NHS NORTH TYNESIDE||28||32||44||36||69||32||9||35||30|
*= between one and seven