Can a Diabetic Smoke Marijuana?

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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.

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33 Comments on "Can a Diabetic Smoke Marijuana?"

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Mike B
I’ve been a type 1 for 41 years. I started smoking pot when I was 18 and it helped me immensely. While some do get the munchies and tend to eat sugary and starchy foods, I have found it far more useful for munching out on veggies. As they are good for you also it will not effect your blood sugar too bad and hydrates you. It helps ease depression and the nerve pain that I have now, and also bring down my blood sugar some but certainly can not be used as a blood sugar treatment. I guess the… Read more »
Jordan Thompson
Hello, I have been type 1 diabetic since I was 8 years old and I just turned 21 this past week. I’ve smoked strong weed religiously since I was about 14. I’m not proud whatsoever but you do what you gotta do. I believe weed can lower blood sugar with intense exercise or other factors. I’m not here to talk about blood sugar but my problems are all tied to this so why not talk about them all? Marijuana suppresses the immune system and I’ve had a battle with folliculitis my entire childhood. But Marijuana helps with my depression and… Read more »
Mike B

If youve been taking antibiotics and have had an infection for a while that wont go away, I would say get to a doctor or ER and get tested for MRSA. Antibiotics and steroids can a major problem for Diabetics.

Lydia
So I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since the 4th grade & I started smoking a lot this summer…. like every week. I would say that I am a pot head & I do think that weed has negatively affected my body… it’s so hard to work out without catching my breath or I’ll feel sick at random times.. I’d even have bad trips every now & then… but I feel like the bad trips r a sign that my insides aren’t doing very well. My bad trips would consist of dizziness, throwing up, NEEDING to get rid of the… Read more »
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 »
Ahmad Rashad

1,415 years? Are you a vampire? Pharrell, is that you?

raymond scott rockwell
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 »
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!

Joe

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.

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 »
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 »
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.

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