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From Houston, Texas, USA:

I recently read a question you answered about diabetes and marijuana. I'm a teenager with type 1 diabetes who also smokes pot, and I can understand the effects that can be caused by not eating and checking your glucose correctly, not correcting a high blood sugar, and being high and getting caught by the police, but I think everyone is told that the first or second day they are diagnosed.

I don't drink often, but I do smoke, and I know for a fact it lowers my glucose. I have memory meter, I smoke at 4:20pm almost religiously, and you can look on the graph. I take good care of myself, and I exercise and play sports, and have a pump and check my blood, and I smoke weed.

Coming from an 18 year old, give the dad a straight answer. If my dad asked a professional a question like that, he must have been concerned or worried for me. As a professional, I think you should have given that man a professional answer, instead of not answering the question and reiterating the fact that pot is illegal.


One can not give a "professional answer" unless there are good published data regarding the subject. You are telling us your personal experience which certainly is of interest, but also not "scientific data". I suspect that as long as marijuana remains illegal, no good, controlled scientific studies will be done to determine its affect on blood sugar in a large number of individuals.

If you really want to know how something affects your own personal blood sugar (whether it is something "legal" or something "illegal"), you'd have to compare blood sugars taken on many days both using whatever you are testing and not using whatever you are testing. If you say you smoke almost every day at the same time, then I suspect it is hard to can be certain that the marijuana itself is lowering your blood sugar. I assume on the rare days you don't smoke, you feel your blood sugars are higher.

It is also possible that on the days you smoke, you are either more active/and or eat less which could also affect your blood sugar. Even if you compare your blood sugars on many days smoking marijuana compared to not smoking marijuana with exercise and food the same and come to the conclusion that it does lower your blood sugar, you can not be certain it will have the same affect in everyone else (for instance exercise usually lowers the blood sugar in most people, but in a small percentage of people, it seems to raise the blood sugar).


Additional comments from Dr. Donough O'Brien:

I wasn't clear why you were dissatisfied with the previous answer. To be sure, it emphasised the social aspects which can certainly influence the management of diabetes. I sense though that you were looking for evidence that marijuana directly affects glucose metabolism. There have been very few studies on this in man, but such as they are, they suggest that the drug has no direct effect on glucose tolerance.


Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:

You should do a controlled experiment: wear a continuous glucose sensor for three days with his usual routine (eating, dosing, doping, exercising) and then turn around a do the same routine but without the doping while using the sensor for another three days. Legalities aside, I am surprised that you do not note an increased appetite after using marijuana -- given that countless others note it.


Additional comments from Barb Schreiner, diabetes nurse specialist:

It sounds like you have tested this out and found how marijuana affects you and your blood sugars. This is not consistently true for everyone. The straight answer is that this substance is illegal and has unpredictable effect on blood sugar, an effect mediated by food intake, insulin intake and the amount of attention being paid to diabetes.


Original posting 1 Aug 2003
Posted to Other Social Issues


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:48
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