Cannabis Before Surgery – A Bad Idea?

While it makes so much sense to take a toke of your favourite flower to relieve some of the anxiety related to the surgery, as a medical cannabis patient you might want to take a moment to debate whether smoking weed before anaesthesia is a good idea.  Anaesthesia is a critical component of almost every surgery.  Anaesthesia refers to a collection of different medical compounds that are used to sedate and cause insensitivity to pain in patients so that they don’t feel any discomfort or pain during their surgical procedures. Plenty of research has shown the negative effects of prescribed opioid painkillers after surgery. But research is still in the works on the effect of weed use after a procedure.

Just across the pond in the UK, they have tested the effect of a cannabis plant extract for healing pain after surgery. This extract called Cannador was given to a total of 65 patients who had just recently had surgery.

The researchers gave them different levels of the drug. The results were clear and positive. As the dose increased, patients experienced less pain.

But Cannador did have some side effects like nausea or increased heart rate along with these higher dosages.

Still, cannabis showed it was beneficial for use after surgery, providing ideal pain relief with few side effects. Not to mention, cannabis is still also less addictive than opioids.

For those who have hypertension, the combination of anesthesia, cannabis and hypertension medicines could potentially lead to hypotension, or abnormally low blood pressure. Additionally, there is carbon monoxide in cannabis smoke, which inhibits blood oxygenation and decreases blood flow, which could lead to tissue death, more scarring and slower wound healing. And, if you smoke marijuana, you are more likely than your non-smoking counterparts to be on a ventilator and developing a nasty complication like pneumonia. It is extremely important to let your anesthesiologist know the details of your marijuana use to avoid complications during surgery, even if you are not a legal medical marijuana patient!

Regardless of how much marijuana you consume by whatever method, it is important to be upfront with your doctor about your cannabis history. This will allow the anesthesiologist to be on the lookout for any potential complications, and your medical team can direct your course of care more clearly. To really protect yourself before surgery, the safest route would be to stop consuming altogether – that includes tobacco – for four to six weeks beforehand.

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