Does weed affect anesthesia?

Published Mar 8, 2019 02:00 p.m. ET

First, let’s look at what anesthesia is.  Simply put, it is a collection of drugs used to sedate and cause insensitivity to pain. Anesthesia is an intricate part of the procedure when you are preparing for surgery.

Cannabis’s therapeutic benefits are well known for a variety of medical conditions, the question is, do those benefits carry over when a person is having a surgical procedure? It is worth looking into.

Some conditions are affecting the outcome of that question. A person’s unique physiology creates variables like their medical condition, cardiovascular health and prescription medication all play a role in deciding if smoking weed before surgery is safe.

Some caution on the timing of using THC and anesthesia needs to be mentioned.

The recommended time to stop smoking marijuana before surgery and the administration of an anesthetic is a minimum of 24 hours prior. This means no smoking weed the night before surgery. Smoking or vaping too close to surgery will cause the production of sputum. This build up in the lungs can have adverse effects during the surgery. Marijuana, when mixed with a commonly used anesthesia drug Propofol, can cause substantially higher doses of the drug needed to reach the required result. This can be a concern when the patient is a frequent smoker. Marijuana also affects other drugs and can cause the patient to experience deeper levels of anesthesia than was intended to be experienced. Marijuana causes blood vessels to relax due to marijuana’s ability to be a vasodilator.  The way that the body reacts the anesthetics and marijuana in combination can complicate the effects of the anesthetics administered.

Marijuana and surgery


Medical marijuana may be used to aid in the control of severe hypertension; the anesthesiologist needs to be aware that you have used marijuana and would then adjust his medication when administering the anesthetic to you. If this is not disclosed the doctor may add medications that will decrease your blood pressure. This could be dangerous, they could add too many anti-hypertension medications. The combination of THC and anesthesia outcome could be a dangerous. This combination could cause a severe drop in the patients’ blood-pressure.

Smoking weed after surgery could be beneficial in post-operative healing.

The pain-relieving benefits are useful, especially when dealing with abdominal surgery. A cautionary note of the smoking of marijuana post-surgery, avoid it. The urge to cough starts a whole lot of negative outcomes. The coughing can cause internal stitching to come undone. A better route of administration post abdominal surgery is a tincture or some form of edible.

Historically the 19th-century midwife used cannabis as a childbirth anesthetic. The benefit of smoking marijuana can help in many ways post-surgery. The analgesic, the anti-inflammatory qualities, the help with disturbed sleeping patterns that often accompany post-surgery are met when using marijuana.

Anesthesia and marijuana mix can be dangerous if you are a regular recreational smoker or are prescribed medical marijuana user. You should discuss your marijuana regime with your anesthetist before surgery. Safety first my friend and enjoy!



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