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Cannabis and Covid-19: study finds consumers had ‘better outcomes’

Cannabis consumers had ‘better outcomes’ and ‘mortality’ than non-users.



Researchers explored the relationship between cannabis and Covid-19.

In patients with Covid-19, researchers have found that cannabis consumers had ‘better outcomes’ and ‘mortality’ than those who did not use it.

For a new study, researchers explored the relationship between cannabis and Covid-19 outcomes in a national database of over 320,000 patients hospitalised with the virus. 

Patients were divided into two groups,  classed as ‘marijuana smokers’ and ‘non-users’. Their records were matched with a patient of the same age, race, gender, and with the same 17 other co-morbidities, from the opposite group. This data was then scientifically analysed to compare outcomes. 

According to the paper, published this month, out of 322,214 patients included in the study, 2,603 were cannabis consumers and these were generally younger than non-users. 

While consumers had a higher prevalence of tobacco use, other co-morbidities including obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes were more prevalent in those who did not use cannabis. 

A comparison analysis showed that patients who consumed cannabis had lower rates of intubation, acute respiratory failure and severe sepsis with multi-organ failure, as well as lower mortality. 

“Marijuana smokers had better outcomes and mortality compared to non-users,” the authors conclude.

“The beneficial effect of marijuana use may be attributed to its potential to inhibit viral entry into cells and prevent the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus mitigating cytokine release syndrome.”

The findings warrant further investigation and larger trials in this area, they add: “The significant decrease in mortality and complications warrants further investigation of the association between marijuana use and Covid-19. Our study highlights a topic of future research for larger trials especially considering the widespread use of marijuana.”

The growing body of evidence on cannabis and Covid-19

This is not the first study to indicate that cannabis may be linked to better outcomes from Covid-19.

Cannabinoids and their impact on the virus has become the subject of an ever-growing body of scientific research, with a number of studies investigating their potential immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects.

Researchers at the University of Chicago previously found a significant negative association between CBD and SARS-CoV-2 positive tests, in a national sample of patients who were taking high doses prescribed for epilepsy.

Another study found that high-CBD Cannabis sativa extracts could be used to reduce the expression of ACE2, a protein that acts as the receptor for Covid-19 in cells on the tongue and oral mucosa.

Meanwhile, a team at Oregon State University, reported that cannabigerol acid (CBGa) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) could have the potential to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering human cells.

A follow-up paper examined 1,831 Covid-19 patients admitted to two hospitals in California, 69 of which reported being active cannabis users. They noted that cannabis consumers entered hospital with lower levels of inflammation than non-users and had “significantly better” outcomes, which were reflected in lower NIH scores, shorter hospitalisation, lower ICU admission rates and less need for mechanical ventilation.

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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