How recreational marijuana is changing the way doctors care for patients

Legalization of recreational marijuana creates new challenges for doctors

DETROIT – The legalization of recreational marijuana in a number of states is creating new research opportunities and challenges for doctors.

Because of the way cannabis is viewed by the Drug Enforcement Administration, federal law has severely limited any research on marijuana. Now that it's legal in states such as Michigan and Colorado, researchers are able to collect more data on problems that hadn't been clearly identified.

According to a new report, people who regularly use marijuana might need as much as two times more medication to sedate them when undergoing medical procedures compared with the amount required by non-users.

Researchers focused their study on people undergoing endoscopic procedures at one community hospital in Colorado.

They found that people who reported smoking or using edibles on a daily or weekly basis required more of three drugs commonly used for sedation: 20 percent more midazolam, 14 percent more fentanyl and 220 percent more propofol.

It was a small study with just 25 cannabis users, so more research needs to be done, experts said.

The study highlights the need to ask parents about marijuana use and for users to be honest about their habits.

Cannabis use increased 43 percent in the U.S. between 2007 and 2015, according to a recent United Nations report.

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