The clear advice for those using cannabis alongside other drugs

14th December 2021

A recently published study found that using cannabis while taking other drugs could result in some unexpected and unpleasant side effects.

According to News Medical, researchers at the Washington State University concluded that the consumption of cannabis and drugs concurrently may come with a significant risk of harmful drug-drug interactions, such as toxicity or accidental overdose.

The authors called for users to be careful when mixing drugs in the first place.

Philip Lazarus, a senior author on the papers, said: “Physicians need to be aware of the possibility of toxicity or lack of response when patients are using cannabinoids.

It’s one thing if you’re young and healthy and smoke cannabis once in a while, but for older people who are using medications, taking CBD or medicinal marijuana may negatively impact their treatment.”

The study authors looked at levels of cannabinoids and their major metabolites in the users’ blood. They found that these cannabis compounds can interfere with the levels of enzymes that metabolise a wide range of drugs that are commonly prescribed for a variety of conditions.

The result of this chemical reaction can be significant: the effects of the drug can be either decreased or increased if too much were built up in the system. In some cases, this can result in the above-mentioned unpleasant consequences (toxicity, accidental overdose).

First author Shamema Nasrin, a graduate student in the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said: “Cannabinoids stay in your body only for about 30 minutes before they are rapidly broken down.

“The metabolites that result from that process stay in your body for much longer – up to 14 days – and at higher concentrations than cannabinoids and have been overlooked in previous studies, which is why we thought we should focus on those as well.

“Taking CBD or marijuana might help your pain but could be making the other drug you’re taking more toxic, and that increase in toxicity may mean that you can’t continue taking that drug.

“So, there could be serious ramifications for anti-cancer drugs, and that’s only one example of the many drugs that could potentially be affected by the cannabinoid-enzyme interactions we’re seeing.”

Millions of people around the world find cannabis to be useful for the treatment and management of a wide variety of conditions and symptoms. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to seek professional advice about potential drug-drug interactions if you are taking any other drugs/medications alongside cannabis.

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