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mortality

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 10, 2017

    thumbs_upTrauma patients who test positive for marijuana upon their admission to the intensive care unit are less likely to die during hospitalization than are age-matched controls, according to data published online ahead of print in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

    A team of researchers from the University of Arizona analyzed the in-hospital mortality rates of adults admitted into the ICU over a five-year period, of which 2,678 were matched (1,339: marijuana positive, 1,339 marijuana negative).

    Authors concluded: “Patients with a positive marijuana screen had a lower mortality rate (5.3 percent versus 8.9 percent) compared to patients with a negative marijuana screen. … Prospective studies with long-term follow up will be useful in answering many of the remaining questions surrounding the specific impact of marijuana on outcomes after trauma.”

    Prior studies have similarly reported greater survival rates among marijuana-positive patients hospitalized for traumatic brain injuries and heart attacks as compared to matched controls.

    An abstract of the study, “How does marijuana effect outcomes after trauma in ICU patients? A propensity matched analysis,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 7, 2014

    Marijuana Use Is Associated With Increased Survival In Brain Injury PatientsTraumatic brain injury (TBI) patients with a history of cannabis use possess increased survival rates compared to non-users, according data published this month in the scientific journal The American Surgeon.

    UCLA Medical Center investigators conducted a three-year retrospective review of brain trauma patients. Data from 446 separate cases of similarly injured patients was assessed. Of those patients who tested positive for the presence of marijuana, 97.6 percent survived surgery. By contrast, patients who tested negative for the presence of pot prior to surgery possessed only an 88.5 percent survival rate.

    “[O]ur data suggest an important link between the presence of a positive THC screen and improved survival after TBI,” the authors concluded. “This finding has support in previous literature because the neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids have been implicated in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. … With continued research, more information will be uncovered regarding the therapeutic potential of THC, and further therapeutic interventions may be established.”

    The abstract of the study, “Effect of marijuana use on outcomes in traumatic brain injury,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 29, 2012

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

    The use of cannabis is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, according to a forthcoming study to be published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. (Read the abstract of the study online here.)

    An international team of investigators from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Inje University in South Korea assessed the impact of a lifetime history substance use on mortality in 762 subjects with schizophrenia or related disorders.

    Researchers reported, “[W]e observed a lower mortality risk-adjusted variable in cannabis-users compared to cannabis non-users despite subjects having similar symptoms and anti-psychotic treatments.”

    Authors speculated that the association between marijuana use and decreased mortality risk may be because “cannabis users may (be) higher functioning” and because “cannabis itself may have some health benefits.”

    They concluded: “To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to examine the risk of mortality with cannabis and alcohol in people with PD (psychotic disorders). This interesting finding of decreased mortality risk … in cannabis users is a novel finding and one that will need replication in larger epidemiological studies.”

    NORML Board Member Dr. Lester Grinpoon, psychiatrist and former Harvard Medical School professor, similarly noted that the study’s findings, though promising, require replication in separate trials. “In reading the cannabis literature over the years, I have learned to be somewhat skeptical about any single report and to maintain a ‘wait and see’ posture as new data eventually flesh out the reality,” he said.

    To date the association between cannabis use and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia is not well understood. While some studies have associated cannabis use with higher cognitive functioning – including better performance on measures of processing speed and verbal skills – other research has implied that cannabis use, particularly heavy use at an early age, may precipitate or exacerbate the disease in those already vulnerable to it. Other experts have criticized this purported link to be “overstated” and not “particularly compelling,” noting that increased levels of cannabis use by the general public has not yet been positively associated with proportionally rising incidences of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.

    Full text of the study, “Alcohol and cannabis use and mortality in people with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders,” will appear in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. Additional information on cannabis use and mental illness, please see the NORML white paper, “Cannabis, Mental Health, and Context.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 31, 2009

    More than half of Americans agree that marijuana is safer than alcohol. Rassmussen Reports has the details here:

    51% Rate Alcohol More Dangerous Than Marijuana
    via Rasmussen Reports

    Fifty-one percent (51%) of American adults say alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 19% disagree and say pot is worse.

    But 25% say both are equally dangerous. Just two percent (2%) say neither is dangerous.

    Younger adults are more likely than their elders to view alcohol as the more dangerous of the two.

    Fifty-three percent (53%) of women say alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, compared to 48% of men. Men by a two-to-one margin over women say pot is riskier, but women are more inclined to say both are dangerous.

    Unmarried adults are more critical of alcohol than those who are married. Those with children at home think alcohol is more dangerous than those without kids living with them.

    Given the multitude of ways that our culture celebrates booze while simultaneously stigmatizing cannabis, these survey results are rather remarkable. Despite more than seven decades of federally sponsored pot propaganda, a slight majority of adults — including many Americans who drink booze and don’t smoke pot — recognize that alcohol poses far greater harms to the consumer and to society than does weed.

    Here are just a few of the ways:

    Quite literally, alcohol is an intoxicant; cannabis is not.

    The word intoxicant is derived from the Latin noun, toxicum, meaning: “a poison.” It’s an appropriate description for booze. Alcohol is toxic to healthy cells and organs, a side-effect that results in some 35,000 deaths per year. Ethanol, the psychoactive ingredient in booze, is carcinogenic following its initial metabolization, which is why even moderate drinking is positively associated with increased incidences of various types of cancer. Heavy alcohol consumption can depress the central nervous system — inducing unconsciousness, coma, and death — and is strongly associated with increased risks of injury (Booze plays a role in about 41,000 fatal accidents per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.) and acts of violence. In fact, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Crime Statistics, alcohol consumption plays a role in approximately one million violent crimes annually.

    By contrast, the active compounds in marijuana, known as cannabinoids, are remarkably non-toxic and actually mimic chemicals naturally produced by the body, so-called endocannabinoids, that are vital for maintaining one’s proper health. Unlike alcohol, marijuana is incapable of causing fatal overdose — cannabinoids do not act upon the brain stem — and its use is inversely associated with aggression and injury. Finally, lifetime use of cannabis is not associated with increased risk of mortality or various types of cancer — including lung cancer — and may even reduce such risk.

    Given our government’s demonization of the cannabis plant and its users it’s a wonder that anyone — much less over half of America — is finally recognizing these facts. That said, this awareness does not yet translate into majority support for legalizing cannabis, which Rasmussen reports remains below 50 percent — meaning that we still have our work cut out for us.