Traumatic Brain Injury outcomes after recreational cannabis use

An analysis of traumatic brain injury and the effects of previous, recent recreational cannabis use was the goal of this retrospective study developed using hospital emergency room data. It was published in April 2024 in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.

Patient data included those who were admitted to a hospital emergency room (ER) in Birmingham, Alabama for traumatic brain injury (TBI) between 2014 and 2016.

They included 3729 patients and 22% of those tested positive for cannabis use. However, the cannabis positive group was younger (32.5) than the cannabis negative group (44.5). 

They did not have data on frequency or recency of cannabis use, only that at the time of admission to the ER, they tested positive for cannabis use. Cannabis usually stays detectable in humans for many weeks after last use.

They used several accepted measurement scales for comparison including the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) which rates the level of patient disability. 


Overall, the cannabis positive patients had more positive outcomes:

had a higher rate of discharge home vs other care settings 

lower discharge mRS

shorter duration of hospital stay


These results seem to suggest a preventative effect for TBI symptoms among the younger cannabis positive patients. However, this is only an association and does not mean causation.

But what it does say fairly strongly is that the cannabis positive patients certainly did not have worse outcomes. That's important for any patient considering cannabinoid medicine for any purpose, given the many years of previous messaging that cannabis damaged brain cells.

Authors' conclusion:

These analyses indicated better short- and long-term outcomes in patients who presented with TBI and Tox(+) for cannabis, compared to Tox(-) patients.

This study adds evidence about the potentially neuroprotective effects of recreational cannabis for short- and long-term post-TBI outcomes.



The full text article is here at Dove Press.



Szaflarski JP, Szaflarski M. Traumatic Brain Injury Outcomes After Recreational Cannabis Use. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2024;20:809-821