In a recent TikTok video, influencer and doctor Kunal Sood M.D. brought attention to an issue related to cannabis consumers that has real basis in medical fact. It turns out that if you consume cannabis regularly, then you will likely require a larger dose of anesthesia than someone who does not consume cannabis in order to be unconscious for your operation and stay unconscious.
This is not just scaremongering; many experienced anesthesiologists have reported the same thing, with some recommending that cannabis consumption be abstained from for a certain amount of time prior to surgery. In fact, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) lists the use of marijuana as one of eight things that you should tell your physician and anesthesiologist before surgery.
Harvard David Hepner, MD, MPH also pleaded with patients to be honest about their cannabis consumption in 2020, stating that he was seeing more people who needed different amounts of anesthesia because they consumed cannabis. According to Hepner, “the way(s) you use marijuana (smoking, edibles, etc.), how often you use, and how much all can affect how your body responds to anesthesia.”
The effects of cannabis on anesthesia medicines are due to the drug’s effects on the central nervous system. Since both marijuana and anesthesia affect the central nervous system, people who use marijuana regularly may need different amounts of anesthesia medicines. In order to know which medicines and how much to use, your doctor needs to know ahead of time how much and how often you use marijuana.
Recently, detailed advice on the potential interactions between cannabis and anesthetic medications before, during, and after surgery was released by the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA Pain Medicine). The guidelines were based on data and recommendations from the Perioperative Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids Guidelines Committee.
The committee answered nine questions and made 21 recommendations in their guidelines. While many perioperative risks related to cannabis have been described in the literature over time, there has never been a single document summarizing all concerns that provides evidence-based recommendations until now.
Ultimately, it is important for patients to be honest with their doctors about their cannabis consumption habits. Simply discussing cannabis use with a doctor can make a big difference in their decision for your dose of medicine; they are not suggesting that people quit completely but they need accurate information about your health in order to make informed decisions.
In conclusion, as we continue exploring the medicinal benefits of cannabis around the world it is important for us not just celebrate its advantages but also understand its limitations especially when it comes under medical scrutiny or observation. Communication between patient and physician is key as both parties must work together towards achieving optimal health outcomes especially in cases where long-term medication is required. As such it is important for people who consume cannabis regularly or intermittently to inform their doctors beforehand so adequate preparation can be made prior to any medical procedure requiring anesthesia because taking chances could lead to severe complications during surgery.