KEY POINTS

  • People with SUD are 7% to 7.8% more likely to suffer a breakthrough COVID-19 infection
  • These Individuals are also more likely to suffer breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths
  • People without SUD only have a 3.6% chance of suffering a breakthrough infection

Fully vaccinated people who are also heavy marijuana users may be more likely to suffer a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, researchers found. 

In a new study published on Tuesday in World Psychology, researchers found that people with substance use disorders (SUD) or people who have addictions to marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, opioids and tobacco were 7% more likely to be infected with COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. The risk increases to 7.8% among people with marijuana use disorder.

In comparison, people without SUD only had a 3.6% chance of suffering a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.

“Patients with cannabis use disorder, who were younger and had less comorbidities than the other SUD subtypes, had higher risk for breakthrough infection even after they were matched for adverse socioeconomic determinants of health and comorbid medical conditions with non-SUD patients,” researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland wrote. 

The researchers also noted that the behavior of those dependent on cannabis may also contribute to the higher risk. 

“Additional variables, such as behavioral factors or adverse effects of cannabis on pulmonary and immune function, could contribute to the higher risk for breakthrough infection in this group.”

Apart from breakthrough infections, researchers also found that fully vaccinated individuals with SUD had a higher rate of breakthrough hospitalizations and death. 

Data used in the study were from nearly 580,000 electronic health records from people with and without SUD who were fully vaccinated between Dec. 1, 2020 and Aug. 14, 2021, and who had not had an infection prior to their vaccination. 

Marijuana advocates argued that the study was limited to people with SUD, noting that many cannabis users were not dependent on the drug. 

“Clearly more study is welcome and necessary, but it is important not to overstate or misrepresent the very inconclusive results presented in this particular research and ensure that cannabis consumers are accurately informed about what the newest research actually indicates,” Morgan Fox, media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association, told Newsweek.

As of Oct. 4, the United States has recorded 44,557,745 COVID-19 cases and 716,449 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University

cannabis-mmj-marijuana-pot-herb-weed Marijuana could soon be legalized on a federal level and cannabis pharmaceuticals are betting on it. Photo: Creative Commons