The Substance Abuse journal published a study recently that will surely put the anti-cannabis spin machine to the test. The Alabama University researchers who authored the study found that cannabis abuse correlated with higher surgical survival rates.
The researchers analyzed data from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) between 2010 and 2014 and identified nearly a million patients who underwent certain orthopedic procedures: hip, knee and shoulder arthroplasty, spinal fusion, and traumatic femur fracture fixation. More than 26,000 patients (.28 percent) also had a "marijuana use disorder" diagnosis, which suggests addiction and/or dependence. The researchers then compared the rates of in-hospital mortality, heart failure, stroke and cardiac disease between the reefer addicts and the rest of the patients.
The findings? Cannabis-abusing patients who underwent any of the arthroplasty procedures and/or traumatic femur fracture fixation experienced lower rates of mortality than those who don't blaze. In other words, the stoners had a better chance of surviving the surgeries than the squares.
Other aspects of the study were all over the place. For example, the femur fixation stoners—who had the highest prevalence of cannabis use overall—also experienced decreased odds of heart failure and cardiac disease, while the blazin' spinal fusion patients had comparable mortality rates and an increased risk of stroke and cardiac disease.
"Marijuana use was associated with decreased mortality... although the significance of these findings remains unclear," concluded the researchers. "More research is needed to provide insight into these associations in a growing surgical population."
Prohibitionists love to conflate correlation with causation, but cannabis advocates would never want to hold themselves to the same scientific standards as these bullshit-spewing trolls. Correlation suggests cannabis may play a role in the survival rates, not that it necessarily does, so "more research" would involve looking for possible mechanisms of action.
For example, a study in Future Medicinal Chemistry argued for "the potential use of cannabinoids as a new class of anti-inflammatory agents," and maybe cannabis-related reductions in inflammation contributed to the decrease in mortality rates. That's one place the scientific community might start, but there are many avenues for additional research.
Consider the case of actor-director Kevin Smith. The Chasing Amy filmmaker recently survived a massive heart attack, and his doctor said cannabis likely saved his life by keeping him calm. If the doctor was correct, researchers should see if cannabis can help others experiencing heart attacks, and if it can, run tests to determine the optimal dosage, THC:CBD ratios and delivery systems.
Regardless, science is slowly but surely raising cannabis' therapeutic profile. The more the anti-cannabis spin machine spews its bullshit and propaganda, the more it sounds like the 17th-century Inquisition that condemned Galileo for saying the Earth revolved around the Sun.