disease you get from cannabis
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Cannabis cures all sorts of disease, but there's one it can cause

Cannabis arteritis usually affects the toes. Photo: Piotr Siedlecki

Cannabis arteritis usually affects the toes. Photo: Piotr Siedlecki

A 26-year-old man in Strilya has been struck down by an incredibly rare disease caused by his predilection for smoking cannabis ? he did it on a daily basis. He attended Frankston Hospital in the state of Victoria when an ulcer on his big toe didn’t heal. He is believed to have consumed one gramme (a whole 0.04oz) of dope a day.

Just what is this illness?

Surgeon Dr David Soon of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons addressed a thousand surgeons from Strilya and even more from overseas at the Annual Scientific Congress in Brisbane to tell of this condition. He stated that the man smoking cannabis resulted in a buildup of plaque on an artery in his toe. While usually encountered in a dental context, in this case, plaque is an accumulation of debris on artery walls. Dr Soon explained that cannabis usage can cause blood vessels to tighten, so more plaque is deposited and the artery narrows. The condition is known as cannabis arteritis and this is the first case to be diagnosed in Strilya. It was first reported in 1960, since when there have been around 50 cases, all in Europe. It is generally considered to be a form of Buerger’s Disease – thromboangiitis obliterans ? which predominantly affects tobacco users, even those who chew rather than smoke it.


If not diagnosed sufficiently early, cannabis arteritis is likely to lead to limb amputation; however, in this instance the sufferer was treated with a balloon catheter, more formally termed a balloon angioplasty. He will have to take aspirin for the rest of his life. Dr Soon added that while rare, this disease should be publicised to doctors in Strilya as it ?may become a growing problem? now the country has legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Patients will fare better if they stop smoking cannabis, the most dreadful of curses. The condition is more common in men than women and usually manifests itself on toes. A study of cannabis arteritis that was published in 2001 examined 10 cases in men whose median age was 23.7 ? it is most common among young adults. All experienced necrosis ? tissue death ? in their hands or feet. Four required amputations, with one requiring two. The disease has occurred in people who smoked no tobacco. But it will almost certainly not happen to you, so don’t let it put you off your drug abuse.

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