For some, smoking cannabis is all about relaxation. If you suffer from regular or prolonged bouts of anxiety, a few puffs on a choice strain can work wonders.
Rather than reaching for dangerous and potentially addictive pharmaceuticals, medical cannabis is the preferred option for millions – the relaxing and therapeutic effects of cannabis are well documented.
But what if you’re heading in for surgery over the coming days? You’ll undoubtedly need something to calm your nerves, but is consuming cannabis before surgery a good idea? If anxiety is getting the better of you, could a few puffs here and there help? Or simply do more harm than good?
Short answer – consuming cannabis before surgery is to be avoided at all costs.
The Effects of Cannabis During Anaesthesia
These days, anaesthesia is comparatively safe. Nevertheless, it’s important not to roll the dice where possible.
What’s important to remember is that after consuming cannabis, both your heart rate and your blood pressure drop significantly. These effects can continue to the modest extent for some time after cannabis use. The problem in this instance is that anaesthesia is designed to have pretty much the same effect. The lower your blood pressure and heart rate, the stronger the effects of the anaesthesia and the more problematic the recovery process.
In addition, smoking cannabis naturally results in the production of more sputum, which can lead to respiratory issues both during and after anaesthesia. Perhaps not to a dangerous extent, but nonetheless the kinds of complications that should be avoided. Back with the healing process, cannabis smoke contains elevated levels of carbon monoxide, which decreases blood flow and inhibits blood oxygenation. This can, in turn, add up to the slower healing of wounds and the increased likelihood of long-term scarring.
There is also evidence to suggest that some of the most commonly used anaesthetic agents – including propofol – need to be administered in larger quantities for those who smoke. For obvious reasons, having more drugs pumped into your system than necessary is never a good thing.
Realistically, you could argue that there’s very little evidence to suggest that smoking cannabis before surgery is fundamentally dangerous. For one thing, comparatively few studies have been carried out into the way cannabis interacts with anaesthetic agents. In addition, cannabis has a profoundly different effect from one smoker to the next. Not to mention, variables such as the amount of cannabis consumed, its strength, the specific strain smoked and so on.
Nevertheless, leading professionals – including cannabis advocates in the medical profession – advise steering clear of cannabis before surgery. Or at least, giving yourself a break of at least 8 hours or so before the commencement of the procedure. Some state that cannabis edibles present less of a risk than smoking cannabis, but once again, there’s little to no scientific evidence to back such a suggestion.
On the whole, therefore, the general consensus points to the whole thing as a risk that simply isn’t worth taking. Even if the risks associated with smoking cannabis before surgery are minimal, they’re still additional risks that you could do without. If struggling with anxiety in the days and weeks before a procedure, the best thing to do is speak to your doctor. They’ll most likely be able to prescribe you something to help, without resorting to anything dangerous or addictive. And if you do go ahead and smoke cannabis in the days and hours prior to surgery, you must let your doctor and surgeon know. Any dishonesty at this stage only stands to put you in harm’s way.