Recent studies have unveiled intriguing insights into the potential relationship between cannabis use and COVID-19 outcomes. The latest findings, published in the CHEST Journal, suggest that cannabis consumers who contract COVID-19 experience reduced mortality and improved overall health compared to non-consumers.
Using data from the National Inpatient Sample Database, the study, titled “Exploring the Relationship Between Marijuana Smoking and COVID-19 Outcomes,” proposes that marijuana might play a role in inhibiting viral entry into cells and curbing the release of proinflammatory cytokines, ultimately mitigating cytokine release syndrome associated with severe COVID-19 cases.
The study, involving 322,214 patients, revealed that out of these, 2,603 were cannabis consumers. Interestingly, these cannabis users were generally younger and had a higher prevalence of tobacco use. However, other comorbidities like obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus were more common in non-cannabis consumers.
Specifically, the research indicated that cannabis consumers with COVID-19 had significantly lower rates of intubation (6.8% vs. 12%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (2.1% vs. 6%), acute respiratory failure (25% vs. 52.9%), severe sepsis with multiorgan failure (5.8% vs. 12%), lower in-hospital cardiac arrest (1.2% vs. 2.7%), and markedly reduced mortality (2.9% vs. 13.5%).
These findings support the notion that cannabis use may positively impact COVID-19 outcomes. While more research is necessary to validate these observations, the results add to a growing body of evidence indicating the potential health benefits associated with cannabis consumption during the ongoing pandemic.
In a separate study from August, active cannabis consumers diagnosed with COVID-19 exhibited improved clinical outcomes compared to non-cannabis users. These benefits included a decreased need for ICU admission or mechanical ventilation. However, this particular study was conducted in just two Los Angeles hospitals, encompassing 1,831 COVID-19 patients. Out of this group, a mere 69 patients reported active cannabis use, accounting for 4% of the total patients studied.
An earlier study published in May contributed to the growing understanding of the possible mechanisms at play. It demonstrated that cannabinoids could reduce the production of two proteins, angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) and the serine protease TMPRSS2. These proteins are frequently exploited by the coronavirus to facilitate infection.
As research into the relationship between cannabis and COVID-19 outcomes continues, these studies provide intriguing glimpses into the potential benefits that cannabis may offer during a global health crisis.