Can a Diabetic Smoke Marijuana?

Shares

I love California. This November, Californians will have the opportunity to vote on a measure that would legalize marijuana use and sale in the state. Adults over the age of 21 would be allowed to carry up to an ounce of marijuana, and they would be allowed to cultivate for personal usage up to 25 square feet of cannabis plants. As of April 2009, 56% of Californians surveyed supported the legalization and taxation of pot.

Let me be clear: I like this idea because I think it’s silly to have so much of our criminal justice system tied up with drug charges, and because I giggle at the absurdity of the fact that our state government is essentially saying, “Well, if you can’t beat ’em…”

In other words, my reasons for liking this proposal, and for liking California, have nothing to do with the drug itself. In fact, pot itself is a big open question for me– namely:

Can a diabetic smoke pot?

I don’t mean “can” here as a verb of possibility or survivability. What I mean is– is it a good idea for a type 1 diabetic to smoke pot? How does marijuana affect blood sugar control and management, in terms of both behavior and biology?

Lacking any personal experience in the matter, I first turn to the internet to answer these questions.

The first thing I note: many other people are wondering the same thing. Rarely does Google pre-fill queries I have about diabetes, but this one Google is all over: “marijuana and diabetes,” “marijuana diabetes type 1,” “marijuana diabetes type 2,” “marijuana diabetes treatment,” and so on.

The results of these queries are full of accounts from people with the personal experience I don’t have. There are apparently many message boards, either diabetes-focused or pot-focused, that have touched on the question of whether it’s OK for diabetics to smoke pot.

The behavioral effects seem widely agreed upon– pot tends to warp the user’s judgement, and tends to bring on “the munchies,” neither of which is particularly good for diabetics. But, notably, neither is insurmountable for diabetics or the non-diabetic pot smoker, and, frankly, neither is all that different for blood glucose control from the effects or being at a party where everyone is eating and the lone diabetic is too busy to pay close attention to her diabetes.

But the biological effects are much more unclear. Personal experience reported on forums here is nearly useless, as most people, especially people under the influence, are poor judges of the exact patterning of biological or metabolic changes. Some people claim pot use lowers blood glucose and HbA1c (see bob1234 here), others claim it raises blood sugars, and no one is impartial. (Unsurprisingly, everyone who identifies as a pot-smoking diabetic in these forums thinks it’s just fiiiiine.)

Medical research, unfortunately, does not prove to be much help either here; there are plenty of papers on the blood glucose control of substance-using diabetics, especially teens, but asking “How well do pot-smokers manage their diabetes?” is very different from asking, “What, independent of behavior and emotion, does pot do in a diabetic?”

So, I conclude: I don’t know if I could or would smoke pot, even if it were legal.

Of course, if marijuana use is legalized in California, there will likely be a sudden increase in the amount of available scientific research on the subject, complete with double-blind tests and molecular analyses of the effects of marijuana on all sorts of people, including diabetics. (Can’t you just see it now? Every grad student in California will suddenly decide, gee, I want to write my thesis on how pot affects my depression/angst/ability to parse 19th century English literature…)

Any type 1 diabetics out there with experience want to weigh in?

*For more on Marijuana and diabetes  click here.

Leave a Reply

28 Comments on "Can a Diabetic Smoke Marijuana?"

Notify of
avatar
3000
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
MRJ
Guest
Thanks, this is an important topic, too little covered, as you say. My two cents follow. The question in your title reads a lot like “Can a diabetic drink alcohol?” Many people suffer under the illusion that it is forbidden for diabetics to drink alcohol. Every doctor I have ever talked to has said that it’s OK, only that beer and wine RAISE bg levels; distilled drinks may LOWER bg levels. One has to take that into consideration, as well as the fact that alcohol can impair judgment, etc. I don’t see why the exact same reasoning would not apply… Read more »
Editor

MRJ-  interesting comment… in particular the hypothesis that marijuana increases insulin production.  Also, I was under the impression that wine doesn’t raise BG the way beer does.

Allison
Guest
Allison

I don’t have personal experience in it, but I would caution that there’s already an issue going on with people needing organ transplants who are turned down because of marijuana use (even medical marijuana). 

Since diabetes is the #1 cause of kidney failure (which leads to a need for a kidney transplant), that would be a good reason to avoid the use of marijuana.   

MRJ
Guest
Allison: could you say more about “an issue going on with people needing organ transplants who are turned down because of marijuana use– even medical marijuana”. What is the issue? Also, I disagree with the argument in your final paragraph. All that follows from diabetes being the #1 cause of kidney failure is that diabetics who are suffering from diabetic kidney disease (a small fraction of those who suffer from diabetes) and who are candidates for kidney transplants (a small fraction of those who suffer from diabetic kidney disease) should consider not smoking marijuana if they also have whatever issue… Read more »
MRJ
Guest

Jessica: I was simply referring to the fact that wine has carbohydrate, and so will raise bg on that score. I think you might be right that on average wine does so less than beer. A glass of red wine has about 5 grams carbohydrate; a Guinness has about 10 grams (all these vary depending on a variety of factors).

MRJ
Guest
Allison: I was simply referring to the fact that wine has carbohydrate, and so can be expected to increase bg on that score. You are probably right about wine doing so less than beer.On average a glass of red wine has just over 5 grams carbohydrate; and Guinness just over 10 grams, and so diabetics who have one of these will have to adjust insulin dosages accordingly. Pot smoking does not contain carbohydrate, and I do not believe (based on personal experience) that it has a direct affect on raising or lowering bg. Here is a link to an article including the… Read more »
Editor

Dude, of course a diabetic can smoke up – everyone can.

Allison
Guest
Allison
My information regarding the leading causes of kidney failure comes from the American Diabetes Association website, which says: “Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of new cases in 2005.” See http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/ (Hypertension is the second leading cause, and of course that’s another common diabetic complication). The issue about smoking marijuana, combined w/ diabetes and transplants, is this: “Hospital transplant programs, wanting to ensure the best possible outcome for each transplant and to make optimum use of the limited number of organs available, have strict standards about drug use and smoking in determining who is eligible… Read more »
Lockerzz
Guest
Lockerzz

Im 15 and im diabetic. I like to have a nice blaze up on the weekend with my mates, i occasionally drink aswell, I had it all under control but recently the munchies have been hitting me badly and it raises my blood sugars to around 21.0-23.0. Any suggestions on how I can keep better control of my blood sugar and still smoke weed which I enjoy? thanks

Sissy
Guest
Sissy

My queston is…. is marijuana safe to smoke with diabetes medications  metformin,lisinopril,lovastatin? 

GunnyD
Guest
GunnyD

@Lockerzz,

Even if you do not have type 1 or 2 diabetes you should not use marijuana.  The human brain finishes developing for the most part between 18-21.  At your age you can cause irreversible brain damage.  Not so much as to be quantified but it will leave you if let’s say have a genius IQ, it will leave you at a “normal” range.

@Sissy,

The answer is yes.  You will have every healthcare professional tell you that it is dangerous.  That is a patent lie, and this is coming from an experienced nurse. Marijuana is safer to combine with the medications you listed than taking 2 aspirin with them.

tracey
Guest
tracey

Ok this goes out to lockerzz, if you’re having a problem with munchies take a few units of insulin extra before u blaze and drink a lot of water, the water helps lower the blood glucose level and stops cotton-mouth.

Tom
Guest

Im 16 and have had type 1 since about 8, having smoked it a few times i can say from personal experice that it doesnt directly or noticably affect bg, but ovbiously the munchies do, but to avoid that, i just take insulin either before i blaze or when im about to eat. Basically the same decision for those who arent diabetic.

dee
Guest

It helps me not throw up.

rendrag
Guest
rendrag

According to this article in the British Medical Journal. 

http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000494.full 

People who or who have smoked cannabis have significantly lower incidence  
Diabetes.

They also had significantly lower levels of C-reactive Protein, which also helps with heart disease.

Try googling “cannabis protection against” and spend a few hours reading the scientific literature.

Then consider that this remarkable non-toxic plant could be grown for free in peoples backyards while saving the public billions in healthcare and law enforcement.

Those billions explain why cannabis remains illegal.

shane_sk821@hotmail.com
Guest
shane_sk821@hotmail.com
Hey there, I am 23 years old and a full-time physics student and I have had Type 1, diabetes for 13 years…. I smoke pot anywhere from 2 times – 6 times a day. My hemoglobinA1-c is around 6.2 and I get blood work done every 3 months. I have an endocrinologist who really helps me if I ever do encounter issues with my type 1 diabetes. It all comes down to keeping aware that YOU ARE STILL DIABETIC, even when you smoke pot or drink…. I personally DO NOT DRINK AT ALL… it is the devil for a diabetic!!!… Read more »
Kyle
Guest

i’m 15 and I’ve had diabetes for 6 years now. i smoke marijuana weekly, and i haven’t found anything different with my bg levels at all. the only precaution i do is give insulin before i smoke because i almost undoubtedly will eat something. it’s been about 4 months now since i started. i feel that it’s safe.

Jack
Guest
Jack
I’m 18 years old and a freshman in college. I’ve been diabetic for about 8 years and have been smoking weed regularly for about a year. No, I am not the TV generated “pot head” that everyone associates weed with. I have good grades and take very good care of my diabetes. (A1c is 7.1) I can honestly say I have never noticed that my diabetes is affected by weed, nor has my endrocronologist. Since starting smoking regularly, my A1c has not budged, and I’m as happy as ever. Smoking cigarettes, on the other hand, is a killer for diabetics.… Read more »
Chronic Pain
Guest
Chronic Pain
I will say this much, After living with Chronic pain for a huge part of my life, if med marijuana was used instead of the pharmacuticals that I was given by my doctors, I WOULD NOT HAVE DIABETES TYPE 1 NOW!  For people like me that have allergic reactions to many pharacuticals medical marijuana would have been the best way to go, and I would still have my health instead now I’m on 7 shots a day to stay alive, did I get a settlement? Am I helped with the inconvience and lack of quality of life and the expense? absolutly not, I lost use of… Read more »
Shaun
Guest
Shaun

I believe we can smoke small amounts without too much risk, well I hope, anyway I do and noticed its best after meals and helps slow down the release of sugars naturally I think. it can raise BPp though and create blood clots in kidneys.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
I’m 32 years old. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 18 years, type 1.  I became a regular cannabis user for the last year.  My observations on my body: 1)  Cannabis itself does not lower my blood sugar. I experimented with this using a continuous glucose monitor. 2)  I have found the best way to control my blood sugar while being on the effects of marijuana is by using sativa-dominant strains. Sativas give me the energetic head high as opposed to the indica dominant strains which will make you lazy and give you the munchies. I get active… Read more »
MMDiabetic
Guest
MMDiabetic
I am 47 yr old female that never smoked pot before, but after much research and self reflection plus pros/cons, I went and got my MM card 6 days ago.  I have chronic pain and spasms in my back due to many back fusions, and I am also a Diabetic. I am far from a pro about this topic, but I am doing a self test on MM and my diabetes. I know the two main strains I’ve been smoking, are more of a body buzz, I don’t really get the munchies, my head isn’t clouded. The strains I use… Read more »
Joe
Guest

Hi my name is Joe.I have Type2 diabetes I’v had it for 10 years now.It’s always been pourly controlled.I went to a diabetes clinic to get help and befor i new it i was taking 5 injections of insolen a day.I started to gain wheght and my bloodshugers where still out of wack.I was fed up and started a on carb diet.I eat plenty of food and I lost 20 pounds in 2 mounths I don’t take any insolen any more.what I’m try to say is you don’t need anything els but willpower.

gretchen
Guest
gretchen

Seriously use common sense…..what good can come from smoking ANYTHING?
Diabetics have a much higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and neuropathy. Why risk making it worse?
Please read the affects to your lungs and body from smoking marijuana.
http://adai.uw.edu/marijuana/factsheets/respiratoryeffects.htm

The air in your home can be polluted from burning wax candles!
Or from not using your exhaust fan in the kitchen!

raymond scott rockwell
Guest
raymond scott rockwell
very good article Karmel. marijuana requires alot more medical research especially from an endocrinological pov. maybe soon we will see some credible research. i also agree its basically useless for people under the influence to weigh in with their experiences as everybodys diabetic body is in slightly different shape and well they aint no scientific studies. BUT some of that information gives us some insight. I am 30yrs old male, have been a type 1 diabetic for 23 yrs and i have habitually smoked marijuana for the past 11 yrs. my hemoglobin is 8.0 and has remained steady for 2… Read more »
Shannon
Guest
Shannon
I’ve been a diabetic for 1415 years now and I’ve smoked marijuana a good three years now I’m not saying school or whatever I’ve just been doing it and it does affect blood sugar levels in many ways depending on the diabetic because of course all diabetics are different but the term “munchies” that’s associated with smoking marijuana is the munchies because there’s a stimulant in marijuana just a regular dank if you well that lowers blood sugar while you smoke that’s why so many people go to food and tremendous amount of food when they’re done smoking as well… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Copyright © 2009-2016 Diabetes Media Foundation, All Rights Reserved.
ASweetLife™ is a trademark of the Diabetes Media Foundation, All Rights Reserved.