Marijuana May Be Protective Against Traumatic Brain Injury

CALIFORNIA:  Based on a survey of patients with traumatic brain injuries, a group of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute researchers found those who tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, were more likely to survive than those who tested negative for the illicit substance.

We surveyed 446 patients who were admitted to a major urban hospital with traumatic brain injuries between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012, who were also tested for the presence of THC in their urine. We found 82 of the patients had THC in their system. Of those, 2.4% died. Of the remaining patients who didn’t have THC in their system, 11.5% died.

While most – but not all – the deaths in the study can be attributed to the traumatic brain injury itself, it appears that both groups were similarly injured. The similarities in the injuries between the two groups led to the conclusion that testing positive for THC in the system is associated with a decreased mortality in adult patients who have sustained traumatic brain injuries.