One of the primary arguments given by federal drug regulators about why it would be unwise to lower the Schedule I classification of marijuana is that the drug has not been well enough studied to know whether it has legitimate medical benefits. Of course, there are many people who use it as medicine who would beg to differ. Beyond that, it’s something of a Catch-22 because the Schedule I listing makes it next to impossible for scientists to get a hold of it, let alone conduct clinical trials. That means researchers must explore other ways of examining the drug’s risks and benefits.
Recently, an analysis published in the journal Cancer Medicine revealed that a history of marijuana use among patients admitted to the hospital was correlated with lower rates of heart failure, cardiac disease and cancer deaths. This conclusion was based on analysis conducted by researchers at Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Alabama, who looked at the health outcomes of nearly 4 million hospitalized patients.
Patients who tested positive for marijuana were more likely than those who didn’t have a history of using the drug to be admitted for a stroke. However, they had much lower odds of suffering from cardiac disease or heart failure. They had especially good survival rates when it came to various types of cancer, and their survival rates overall were better than non-users.
This backs up earlier research presented at a 2016 meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in which researchers reported that heart attack patients who had a history of marijuana consumption had better odds of survival than those who didn’t use the drug. That data looked at some 3,800 heart attacks patients who admitted to having consumed marijuana or who tested positive for it, versus some 1.2 million controls that were similarly matched.
The authors didn’t speculate about why the use of medical marijuana could be linked to these better short-term survival rates. They didn’t totally rule out the possibility that it might have something to do with co-founding variables, but say further study is necessary. Marijuana’s impact on heart health isn’t very well understood, and there is some evidence that marijuana use actually might temporarily increase blood pressure, especially in patients who have never used the drug before.
Still, there is a growing body of evidence that the drug has many valuable medicinal properties that we may not even fully recognize. Another study published two years ago in the journal The American Surgeon by investigators with the UCLA Medical Center looked at brain trauma patients over the course of three years – 450 in all. Of those who tested positive for marijuana, 97.6 percent survived the surgery. In contrast, those who tested negative for cannabis before surgery only had an 88.5 percent survival rate. Researchers say the data links the use of cannabis to improved survival ratings after a traumatic brain injury. This finding also had some support in previous literature, which has indicated that cannabinoids may have a neuro-protective effect, and could be useful for patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Study: History of Marijuana Use Helps Reduce In-Hospital Mortality, Dec. 8, 2016, By Paul Armentano, The Daily Chronic
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