Lindsay A. Sobotka, Khalid Mumtaz, Alice Hinton, Sean G. Kelly, Lanla F. Conteh, Anthony J. Michaels, A. James Hanje, Michael R. Wellnera

Published in Annals of Hepatology

November 2020


Introduction and Objectives: 
Previous studies reveal conflicting data on the effect of cannabis use in patients with cirrhosis. This research evaluates the impact of cannabis on hepatic decompensation, health care utilization, and mortality in patients with cirrhosis.

Material and Methods: 
A retrospective analysis of the State Inpatient Database (SID) was performed evaluating patients from Colorado and Washington in 2011 to represent pre-cannabis legalization and 2015 to represent post-cannabis legalization. Multivariable analysis was performed to study the impact of cannabis on the rate of admissions with hepatic decompensations, healthcare utilization, and mortality in patients with cirrhosis.

Cannabis use was detected in 370 (2.1%) of 17,520 cirrhotics admitted in 2011 and in 1,162 (5.3%) of 21,917 cirrhotics in 2015 (p-value <0.001). On multivariable analysis, cirrhotics utilizing cannabis after its legalization experienced a decreased rate of admissions related to hepatorenal syndrome (Odds Ratio (OR): 0.51; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.34-0.78) and ascites (OR: 0.73; 95% CI: 0.63-0.84). Cirrhotics with an etiology of disease other than alcohol and hepatitis C had a higher risk of admission for hepatic encephalopathy if they utilized cannabis [OR: 1.57; 95% CI: 1.16-2.13]. Decreased length of stay (-1.15 days; 95% CI: -1.62, -0.68), total charges (-$15,852; 95% CI: -$21,009, -$10,694), and inpatient mortality (OR: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.51-0.91) were also observed in cirrhotics utilizing cannabis after legalization compared to cirrhotics not utilizing cannabis or utilizing cannabis prior to legalization.

Cannabis use in patients with cirrhosis resulted in mixed outcomes regarding hospital admissions with hepatic decompensation. A trend towards decreased hospital utilization and mortality was noted in cannabis users after legalization. These observations need to be confirmed with a longitudinal randomized study.

Open Access




Sobotka, L. A., Mumtaz, K., Hinton, A., Kelly, S. G., Conteh, L. F., Michaels, A. J., … & Wellner, M. R. (2020). Cannabis Use May Reduce Healthcare Utilization and Improve Hospital Outcomes in Patients with Cirrhosis. Annals of Hepatology.