Cannabis and Diabetes



With the legalization of cannabis in Canada on October 17, 2018, people with diabetes may have questions about the effect it may have on their diabetes management.  


What is cannabis?

Cannabis, or more commonly known as marijuana, weed, or pot, is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant.  Although the terms are used interchangeably, cannabis is a broad term that can be used to describe organic products such as cannabinoids, marijuana and hemp.  These products exist in various forms and are used for medical, industrial and recreational purposes.  Marijuana refers only to parts of the plant that contain substantial levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is primarily responsible for the plant's intoxicative qualities.  Cannabidiol (CBD) is another chemical compound found in cannabis. THC and CBD are among the more than 100 different types of chemical compounds found in cannabis.



How does it relate to diabetes?

There is limited research available on the impact of cannabis on diabetes. The largest evidence supports the use of cannabinoids in 3 conditions:  chronic pain, nausea and vomiting and spascitiy.  For people with neuropathic pain resulting from diabetes, there may be an indication for prescribed cannabis.  

Here are a few things to consider if using cannabis when you have diabetes:

  • You may experience a change in appetite or a change in your metabolism, which will affect your blood sugars and/or your medication requirements.  Therefore it is important to monitor your blood sugar and your weight.
  • You may have a change in your learning, memory or attention.  This could affect your ability to manage your diabetes.  It is important that you do not miss taking your medication or monitor your blood sugar. 
  • Your thought processes may be impaired, which could impact your ability to recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia or be able to treat it.  It may also impair your ability to calculate the dosage of insulin you are taking (if you adjust your insulin based on carbohydrate intake or blood sugar readings).
  • Be aware of potential risks and side effects.
  • Keep your blood glucose monitor with you.
  • Wear your medical alert identification.
  • Make sure others around you know that you have diabetes. 

Helpful Resources


Here are some useful links that offer some helpful information:


Ontario - Cannabis Legalization

Government of Canada - What you need to know about Cannabis

Diabetes Canada - Generation D: For Young Adults Living with Type 1 Diabetes

Insulin Nation (USA) - Health Consequences of Cannabis and Diabetes