Has Self-reported Marijuana Use Changed in Patients Undergoing Total Joint Arthroplasty After the Legalization of Marijuana?

Jason M Jennings, Michael A Williams, Daniel L Levy, Roseann M Johnson, Catherine L Eschen, Douglas A Dennis
Clinical Orthopaedics and related Research 2019, 477 (1): 95-100

BACKGROUND: Marijuana use has become more accessible since its recent legalization in several states. However, its use in a total joint arthroplasty population to our knowledge has not been reported, and the implications of its use in this setting remain unclear.

QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: We report (1) the self-reported use of marijuana in patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty both before and after its legalization; and (2) clinical and demographic factors associated with marijuana use in patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty.

METHODS: One thousand records of patients undergoing primary total joint arthroplasty (500 consecutive before and 500 consecutive after the legalization of the commercial sale of marijuana in Colorado) were included for analysis. Preoperative medical history and physicals were retrospectively reviewed for self-reported and reasons (medicinal versus recreational) for use. Additionally, patient records were used to determine insurance type, age, gender, smoking status, history of substance abuse, preoperative narcotic use, alcohol intake, and the type of arthroplasty performed.

RESULTS: Self-reported use after legalization dramatically increased from 1% (four of 500) to 11% (55 of 500) (odds ratio [OR], 15.3 [95% confidence interval, 5.5-42.6]; p < 0.001) after legalization. For those reporting use after legalization, 46% (25 of 55) of patients reported recreational use, 26% (14 of 55) medicinal use, 27% (15 of 55) did not report a reason for use, and 2% (one of 55) reported both recreational and medicinal use. Factors associated with use included younger age (with a 10-year mean difference between the groups [p < 0.001]), male gender (36 of 59 users [61%] versus 411 of 941 nonusers [44%]; OR, 2.02; p < 0.01), current smokers (22 of 59 users [37%] versus 54 of 941 [6%] nonusers; OR, 0.09; p < 0.01), a history of substance abuse (eight of 59 users [14%] versus 18 of 941 nonusers [2%]; OR, 8.04; p < 0.001), insurance type (Medicaid only, 28 of 59 [48%] users versus 56 of 941 [6%] nonusers; OR, 20.45; p < 0.01), and preoperative narcotic use (eight of 59 users [14%] versus 17 of 941 nonusers [2%]; OR, 2.4; p < 0.001). We did not find differences with regard to alcohol use, amount of alcohol consumption, or insurance types other than Medicaid.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest the legalization of marijuana has led to either more users or more patients who are willing to report its use given the lack of legal ramifications. Despite these findings, the evidence to date precludes the use of marijuana postoperatively in patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty. Further investigation, ideally in a prospective randomized manner, should focus on opioid consumption, nausea, sleep patterns, and outcomes in patients using marijuana who are undergoing total joint arthroplasty before recommendations can be made for its use.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, therapeutic study.

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