Study: Cannabis Use Linked to Severe COVID-19 Cases

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis recently reported findings that link cannabis use to an increased risk of severe illness related to COVID-19.

Full story after the jump.

A recent study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that cannabis use is linked to an increased risk of severe illness related to COVID-19, reports.

The study, published June 21 in JAMA Network Open, analyzed the medical records of 72,501 patients treated for COVID-19 at health clinics in Missouri and Illinois. According to researchers, self-reported cannabis users were 80% more likely to require hospitalization for severe COVID-19 symptoms, and cannabis users were 27% more likely to require intensive care.

Researchers also noted that the risk of severe COVID-19 was comparable between cannabis users and tobacco users, although tobacco users were more likely to die from their symptoms.

Psychiatry professor and the study’s senior author Li-Shiun Chen, MD, DSc, said that despite the growing public perception that cannabis is safer than smoking or drinking, “there hasn’t been as much research on the health effects of cannabis as compared to tobacco or alcohol.”

“What we found is that cannabis use is not harmless in the context of COVID-19. People who reported yes to current cannabis use, at any frequency, were more likely to require hospitalization and intensive care than those who did not use cannabis.” — Chen, in the report

The study challenges the findings of multiple studies published last year, including:

  • One study published in the peer-reviewed CHEST Journal that found cannabis consumers who contracted COVID-19 saw reduced mortality and better outcomes compared to non-consumers, and
  • Another study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research that found active cannabis consumers fared better against COVID-19 than non-consumers.

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