A study that analyzed the hospital patient records of cannabis consumers with COVID-19 reveals new evidence to show that consumers had improved clinical outcomes.
The Journal of Cannabis Research published a new study recently that claims that cannabis can help lessen COVID-19 symptoms. The study, “Cannabis consumption is associated with lower COVID-19 severity among hospitalized patients: a retrospective cohort analysis,” used data collected from two Los Angeles hospitals: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center. A retrospective analysis found decreased severity of symptoms and improve clinical outcomes in relation to COVID-19 patients.
Researchers explained the importance of studying the relationship between cannabis and COVID-19. “In the USA in 2020, an estimated 17.9% of the population (49.6 million people) used cannabis during the past year,” researchers wrote. “Given the magnitude of COVID-19 and the prevalence of cannabis use in the USA, it is important to evaluate how active cannabis usage may affect clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients.”
Among the 1,831 patients whose cases were analyzed, all were 18 or older. Age among cannabis active consumers was a noteworthy consideration, due to the severity of symptoms experienced differently between young or old patients. “Consistent with known trends, active cannabis users were overall younger than non-users,” researchers wrote. “However, when adjusting for age these outcomes remained consistent. Even more, when adjusting for comorbid conditions, demographics and smoking history we found that cannabis users still had less severe disease progression compared to non-users.”
Cannabis’s unique properties warranted further examination from researchers. “Consistent with our understanding of how cannabis may play a role as an immunomodulator, non-cannabis users were found to have greater elevations in inflammatory biomarkers at the time of admission and during their hospital course,” researchers wrote in their discussion. According to the National Cancer Institute, an immunomodulatory agent is known to suppress the immune system, and assist the body in fighting cancer, infection, and other diseases.
Ultimately, researchers found that cannabis consumption was beneficial for some patients, but more research would be necessary to support that conclusion. “In this retrospective review of 1831 COVID-19 patients requiring hospital admission, current cannabis use was associated with decreased disease severity. This was demonstrated in lower NIH severity scores as well as less need for oxygen supplementation, ICU admission and mechanical ventilation,” they wrote. “While there was a trend toward improved survival in cannabis users, this was not statistically significant. To our knowledge, this is the first study looking at clinical outcomes of cannabis users hospitalized with COVID-19. Further studies, including prospective analyses, will help to better understand the relationship between cannabis and COVID-19 outcomes.”