Marijuana use has increased in the U.S. over the last few years. Nearly 50 percent of adults have tried weed, according to a Gallup poll. Another Gallup poll found that 12 percent of U.S. adults said they regularly smoked marijuana in 2019. Now, it seems heavy weed smokers may be at a greater risk of contracting one of the coronavirus variants — even if they have been fully vaccinated.
People with a substance use disorder (SUD), which is a dependence on marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, opioids and tobacco, were more likely to contract the coronavirus despite having been vaccinated, a recent study published in World Psychology found.
Those without a SUD saw a 3.6 percent rate of breakthrough infections, compared to a 7 percent rate in those with a SUD, The New York Post reported. At 7.8 percent, those with marijuana use disorder had the highest risk for breakthrough infections, the study revealed.
Vaccinated people who are the heaviest marijuana users are more likely to contract covid-19 than vaccinated people with other substance abuse disorders, The Philly Voice reported.
“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,” the researchers wrote.
“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.”
Marijuana advocates, however, pointed out that most marijuana users are not dependent on the drug.
“This study is limited to people with ‘substance use disorder’ which is a very small subset of cannabis consumers,” Morgan Fox, media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association, told Newsweek.
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“This is merely correlation and does not show a causal relationship … individual behavior patterns and social conditions may be a major contributing factor above and beyond simply exhibiting problematic substance use patterns, such as lack of access to reliable information, sharing joints, etc.,” she said.
“We must continue to encourage and facilitate COVID-19 vaccination among people with substance use disorders, while also acknowledging that even after vaccination, this group is at an increased risk and should continue to take protective measures against COVID-19,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s director Nora D. Volkow said.