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Cannabis Users Need Twice As Much Anesthesia For Medical Procedures

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Cannabis use could have consequences users don't expect. For instance, new research reveals a lot more sedation medication is required for regular cannabis users than non-users.   ( Michael Moriarty | Pixabay )

A lot of people choose to take cannabis for medical purposes, but new research has shown that it could have drawbacks as cannabis-using patients need much more anesthesia than non-users.

Potential Consequences Of Regular Cannabis Intake

Scientists found that cannabis users need more than twice the amount of sedation during medical procedures.

Specifically, the study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reveals that patients who smoke or ingested cannabis daily or weekly require 14 percent more fentanyl, 20 percent more midazolam, and 220 percent more propofol for optimum sedation even during routine procedures.

To get their findings, the team analyzed the medical records and data from 250 patients who underwent endoscopic procedures after recreational cannabis was legalized in 2012. By comparing the data of cannabis users and non-users, the researchers linked cannabis use to a higher amount of medication required for sedation.

Unfortunately, some sedatives could be harmful to the patients in higher doses.

"Some of the sedative medications have dose-dependent side effects, meaning the higher the dose, the greater likelihood for problems," Dr. Mark Twardowski, lead researcher and osteopathic internal medicine physician, explains in a report on Science Daily. "That becomes particularly dangerous when suppressed respiratory function is a known side effect."

Scientists Believe It's Important To Keep Studying Cannabis

Twardowski expresses concern over the unforeseen issues of cannabis use, especially in the wake of its widespread legalization and the lack of research on the drug.

"Cannabis has some metabolic effects we don't understand and patients need to know that their cannabis use might make other medications less effective," Twardowski says. "We're seeing some problematic trends anecdotally, and there is virtually no formal data to provide a sense of scale or suggest any evidence-based protocols."

Anecdotal trends include a higher number of patients suffering from chronic nausea, which is a common symptom of regular cannabis use, according to Twardowski. There have also been more patients requiring higher doses of anesthesia as well as higher rates of post-operation seizures.

In the United States, cannabis use has increased 43 percent from 2007 to 2015. Within this period, an estimated 13.5 percent of the adult population used cannabis.

While the unforeseen consequences of cannabis use concerns some medical experts, the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana offers the valuable opportunity of collecting more meaningful and accurate data. Since it is legal in a growing number of states and countries, more and more people are becoming willing to admit cannabis use.

The same team is already planning a follow-up study tackling the different requirements for sedation and anesthesia and post-procedure pain management of users and non-users of cannabis.

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