SEP 08, 2022 8:34 AM PDT

Cannabis Users Were Less Likely to End up in ICU for Covid-19

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study comparing cannabis and non-cannabis users hospitalized for COVID-19 found that cannabis users were less likely to end up in the intensive care unit (ICU) or need intubation. They also required less COVID related therapies such as steroids and antibiotics. The study was the first to compare data from actual COVID patients, and the results were published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.   

The retrospective analysis included data from 1,831 patients admitted to two Southern California medical centers. The participants were 62% male and 38% female. A majority were white (48%), and the rest of the participants were 15% Black (15%), Asian (4%), and Hispanic (28%). Additionally, 69 patients (4% of the participants) disclosed that they actively use cannabis (4% of the cohort). Active users tended to be younger with an average age of 44 years, and they were less prone to diabetes. They also used tobacco more frequently than those who did not use cannabis. 

Researchers evaluated outcomes including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Covid-19 Severity Score. The study assessed patient need for oxygen supply, admission to the intensive care unit, mechanical ventilation, length of hospitalization, and hospital death among cannabis and non-cannabis users. The study also accounted for comorbidities like tobacco smoking, diabetes, heart, and lung diseases.

The study found lower admission rates (12% vs. 31%) and shorter hospitalizations (4 days vs. 6 days) for regular cannabis users. ICU admissions were 12% lower, and intubation rates were 6% lower in cannabis users. Cannabis users demonstrated less inflammation upon admission compared to non-users. Cannabis users also sustained lower inflammation markers during the hospitalization period and at discharge compared to non-users.

Other recent studies have indicated cannabis compounds may prevent COVID-19 infection. Oregon State University researchers found evidence that cannabinoid acids can bind to the pike protein of the virus and prevent infection. 

Sources: Hemp, Journal of Cannabis Research


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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