by Clay Wirestone, Diabetes Health Magazine
For residents of Colorado and Washington state, 2014 brought a profound legal and societal change. Marijuana is now available, legally, in both of those states. While the drug is cleared for medical use elsewhere, and other jurisdictions have decriminalized it, these two states have taken the profound, extra step of full legalization.
So what does this new, widespread sale of pot mean for people with diabetes? On one hand, you might expect that it would cause problems. Most people have heard (or experienced first-hand, although we won’t be taking names here) of the “munchies.” How could that possibly be good for folks watching their blood sugar? Surprisingly, research suggests otherwise.
Marijuana actually appears to have metabolic benefits. A study published last summer in The American Journal of Medicine looked at more than 4,500 adults, of whom 579 were using marijuana at the time. That subgroup had notably better fasting blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, and waist circumference.
According to the study’s abstract: “current marijuana use was associated with 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels . . . and 17 percent lower HOMA-IR (insulin resistance). . . . We found significant associations between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences.”
Murray Mittleman, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the study’s lead author, told Time magazine last year that “the most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers.”