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A COMIC’S VIEW: Marijuana could benefit health and the economy
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By INIGO ‘NAUGHTY’ ZENICAZELAYA
As we wade through the final stages of the COVID -19 quarantine, I still find myself willingly wanting to “social distance”.
I’ve gotten used to it, it’s become part of my routine.
Another portion of my routine is reading, I try to read as much as I can daily, in or out of the bathroom.
Recently I read an interesting article on marijuana in relation to IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) and its treatment.
Not only is marijuana helping patients on multiple levels, to combat or cope with their IBS and the adverse side affects, it’s actually cutting the cost of hospital care.
This really peaked my interest, taking into consideration we have a high number of Bahamians suffering from IBS and Crohn’s Disease, and medical care isn’t even close to being cheap in The Bahamas in 2020.
Let’s have a closer look.
The results of a recent study by Rush University Medical School and the John H Stroger, Jr Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, showed that patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who have a history of marijuana use spent less time in the hospital and had lower inpatient health care utilisation and associated costs.
The study reviewed hospitalisation data from more than 9,000 patients over a four-year period who had a primary discharge diagnosis of IBS.
Marijuana users and non-users were compared for various clinical outcomes, to evaluate the impact of marijuana use on inpatient length of stay and resource utilisation for patients with IBS.
The study discovered that the 246 patients who had a history of using cannabis had a shorter average stay in the hospital (2.8 days versus 3.6 days for non-users) and were less likely to have had certain medical procedures associated with IBS diagnoses and treatment.
The study was the first nationwide study to evaluate the association between marijuana use and healthcare utilisation in patients with IBS.
The study found that marijuana use is associated with a lower use of endoscopic procedures, lower length of stay and lower median total cost of hospitalisation.
The reduced length of the average hospital stay and the decreased use of medical procedures translated into average total charges for the hospitalisations to be more than $3,000 less for marijuana users than patients who did not report using marijuana.
The study provided evidence to suggest marijuana use may decrease healthcare utilisation and costs among hospitalised patients with IBS.
These findings are likely attributable to the effects of marijuana’s active compound, THC, gastrointestinal motility and colonic compliance.
The role of marijuana in the treatment for IBS has potential for significant impact at the individual and population level given the burden of IBS on individual quality of life and healthcare expenditures.
In an interesting side note in 2013, a separate study found that a significant number of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease used marijuana and more than 16 percent said that marijuana was “very helpful” for relief of abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea.
Okay ‘Doc’ we’ve examined the legalisation and decriminalisation aspects of medicinal and recreational marijuana from a revenue standpoint.
Now we need to look at it from a medicinal stand point, and the beneficial qualities of marijuana.
Both options are sound in their own right, in my opinion we can and should maximise both options.
It might just be the healing of the nation, in more ways than one.