Cannabis Science

Can You Smoke Weed Before Surgery?

doctor performing surgery

If you have surgery coming up, you’re probably nervous. If you’re wondering whether or not you can hit your bong to calm your nerves, you’ve come to the right place. So, can you smoke weed before surgery? Here’s what we know. 

Photo: Pexels 

Should You Smoke Weed Before Surgery?

No, you shouldn’t. 

Even though a blunt before surgery could settle your nerves, it could cause major problems later. UC Health says using weed just once a week can be a problem during surgery. 

The main reason marijuana and surgery don’t mix is marijuana’s effects on anesthesia.

A 2018 study says, “Marijuana caused airway obstruction and increased anesthetic dosages needed to place laryngeal airways. Use within 72 hours of general anesthesia was advised against.”

Let’s talk about each claim.

Unfortunately, using marijuana before surgery can cause airway obstruction.

The 2018 study says, “One such pulmonary complication is airway obstruction, extensively linked to marijuana use, in which Warner et al. found that untreated, such as a lack of smoking cessation in the case of marijuana, leaves patients at a high risk for perioperative complications.”

These complications can be dangerous.

The next claim is about anesthetic dosages. 

People who use weed regularly or even just before surgery may need more anesthesia than someone who doesn’t. 

That applies to any type of surgery that may require anesthetics including getting your wisdom tooth removed. 

But why? 

According to UC Health, the cannabinoids from marijuana attach themselves to our endocannabinoid receptors so you’ll need more anesthesia to stay asleep.

How much more?

Well, according to Dr. Jennifer Kollman, an anesthesiologist and senior medical director for anesthesia at UCHealth in southern Colorado, a stoner may need 10 times more anesthesia than a non-stoner. 

You’re probably wondering if you can use weed in other forms before surgery. 

The American Society of Anaesthesiologists says no.

“Marijuana has a sedative [effect] and can interact with anesthesia, so it’s important to tell your physician anesthesiologist if you partake, whether by eating edibles, smoking or other methods.”

Other Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Smoke Weed Before Surgery

There are actually tons of other reasons why you shouldn’t smoke weed before surgery.

For example, using weed before surgery can extend the amount of time you’ll be on a ventilator.

According to the American Society of Anaesthesiologists, smoking can cause breathing issues during or after surgery. 

Smoking, they said, “…also increases your risk of: developing pneumonia; needing a ventilator to help you breathe after surgery; suffering a heart attack during or after surgery; and reducing blood flow, which slows healing and increases the chance of infection.”

While they may be referring to cigarette smoke, the American Society of Anaesthesiologists says that marijuana smoke has many of the same risks as cigarette smoke. 

Another source also said you’re at increased risk of a heart attack.

UC Health says, “If you have pre-existing heart disease, there is a risk of heart attack if you use marijuana within 60 minutes of receiving anesthesia.”

You can also have trouble breathing if your stomach content ends up in your lungs during surgery.

You’re at an increased risk of that happening if you smoke weed before surgery. 

UC Health says that stoners have a more difficult time emptying their stomach content. During surgery, this content may enter the lungs quicker than a breathing tube can be inserted. 

In addition, the Harvard Gazette says that people with cannabis use disorder were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital after surgery. 

So what does all of this mean?

That means not only should you tell the medical professional if you used weed before coming in, but you should also let them know if you use weed regularly. They can use this information to make sure that you get sufficient anesthesia and be prepared for the potential outcome. 

Can You Smoke Weed After Surgery?

It’s not recommended. 

After surgery, your body is trying to heal.

Smoking weed can interfere with that. 

Smoking weed can actually delay wound healing. 

Carinol Plastic Surgery says, “Cannabis use has been shown to delay wound healing, which can be a problem after surgery. Delayed healing can lead to infections, scarring, and other complications that can prolong recovery time.”

In addition, Carniol Plastic Surgery mentions that weed can affect certain medications. After surgery, you’re often prescribed medication. Be sure to ask your doctor whether or not you can use weed with what you’re prescribed. 

After surgery, you may also be in pain and be tempted to reach for a blunt to alleviate it.

That may be a bad idea.

According to The American Society of Anaesthesiologists, weed after surgery may make your pain worse. 

While weed may relieve chronic or nerve pain, you may be out of luck for acute pain.

There is a study that actually confirms this. 

The study, which was summarized in the American Society of Anaesthesiologists, says that cannabis users reported higher pain scores and needed more pain medication.  


Can you smoke weed before surgery? If you have surgery coming up, we recommend skipping your weekly blunt. It’s actually recommended that you take a break from weed for at least 72 hours before your surgery. In addition, you should tell your doctor that you use weed so that they may determine how much anesthetics you need. After your surgery is over, we recommend skipping weed for a while. Ask your doctor when is the best time for you to restart weed so that you don’t delay your healing or cause any other negative effects.


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].