According to a small-scale study, people who regularly use marijuana may need twice the amount of sedation typically required by non-users when they are undergoing medical procedures.
The researchers studied 250 patients in Colorado who had undergone minimally invasive procedures — mostly colonoscopies — that require anesthesia. The state has already legalized both medical and recreational cannabis.
Of the total number of patients, 10 percent said that they used cannabis regularly.
The researchers also compared three commonly used sedation drugs for endoscopic procedures — midazolam, propofol, and fentanyl — to get a clearer picture of how weed affects the effectiveness of different kinds of anesthesia.
Compared to other patients, those who used cannabis were found to need 20 percent more sedative midazolam, 14 percent more analgesic fentanyl, and more than twice as much anesthetic propofol.
Lead author Dr. Mark Twardowski of Western Medical Associates in Grand Junction, Colorado, told Reuters that cannabis users cannot assume that consuming the drug will have no effects on their medical care. The fact that cannabis use impacts the effectiveness of these three medicines clearly raises myriad questions about the potential effects of weed on other medications, he added.
Twardowski further explained that because cannabis has a long life in our system, it may take months to ameliorate its effects. He also emphasized the need for patients to inform their doctors and healthcare providers about their cannabis consumption behavior before they undergo any procedure.
According to the researchers, with the continued increase in cannabis use and with more widespread legalization, the field of sedation and anesthesia needs further in-depth studies. More studies are needed to confirm their preliminary findings, and further research should use a larger population of cannabis users and that it should look into a wider variety of surgeries.
The study was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.