Cannabis, e-cigarettes and anesthesia

Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2020 Jun;33(3):318-326. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000872.


Purpose of review: Both cannabis and e-cigarette use are increasing, particularly among adolescents. The use of cannabis products may impact patients' physiology under anesthesia. Understanding the effects of cannabis and vaping are critical to the provision of safe and effective anesthetic care.

Recent findings: E-cigarettes have recently been implicated in a severe presentation of acute lung injury, often in association with vaporization of the cannabinoid, THC. E-cigarette use appears to be associated with other less-acute pulmonary adverse effects that are yet to be fully understood. Cannabis affects many organ systems with alterations in cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological function. Specifically, there is emerging evidence that cannabis use may reduce the efficacy of sedative agents and postoperative pain management efforts.

Summary: There is a very wide variety of cannabis products currently available, with respect to both route of administration as well as cannabinoid content. Patients using cannabis products prior to anesthesia may present with altered physiology that place them at increased risk for cardiovascular and respiratory complications. They may also be tolerant to the effects of propofol and opioid for pain management, thus consideration should be given to use of a multimodal regimen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia*
  • Cannabinoids*
  • Cannabis / adverse effects*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Lung Injury
  • Vaping / adverse effects*


  • Cannabinoids