What Doctors Are Learning About Marijuana and Surgery

What Doctors Are Learning About Marijuana and Surgery

People who use cannabis may need more anesthesia during procedures, but many remain wary of mentioning their habit


There’s a surprising side effect of a marijuana habit that many people don’t know: Regular users may need more anesthesia during medical procedures to remain sedated.

As more states allow people to smoke pot and eat edibles legally, more doctors say they are asking about marijuana use—and urging honesty—before surgeries or procedures because habitual users may need more anesthesia and painkillers. In one study, people who reported they used cannabis required more anesthesia than people who didn’t use it.

“It’s incredibly important to disclose your cannabis use to your anesthesiologist,” says Staci Gruber, director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., who co-wrote a recent study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry looking at interactions between cannabis and other drugs.

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