Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disease for which there is no cure, has a
significant impact on quality of life. While many types of medications
can help prevent or control the symptoms of the disease, undesirable
such as weakening of the bones and increased vulnerability to
infections, often occur when those medications are used.
Study Findings Show Promise
Recognizing the need for new treatments that relieve symptoms with as
few side effects as possible, researchers at Meir Medical Center in
Israel examined the effects of the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa on
patients with severe Crohn’s disease. Published in the journal "Clinical
Gastroenterology and Hepatology" in October 2013, the
study involved 21
patients with severe Crohn’s disease. Of those 21 patients, 11 patients
smoked two joints a day for eight weeks. The other 10 patients were
given a placebo.
In total, five of the 11 patients (45 percent) who smoked marijuana
daily achieved total remission of their symptoms. They also reported
improved appetites and sleep patterns with no significant side effects.
Moreover, a clinical response–a detectable change in patients’ signs
and symptoms–was found in 10 of those patients (90 percent). A clinical
response was found in only four of the 10 patients (40 percent) given a
It is believed marijuana’s anti-inflammatory effects may be responsible
for these results. The plant’s constituent molecules kill bacteria,
which may play a role in Crohn’s disease. A
by researchers at Technische Universität München (TUM) in Germany and
published in the journal "Gut" in April 2015 has shown that bacteria in
the intestines can lead to an inflammation similar to Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s Disease Patient Faces Prison Sentence for Marijuana Use
Despite growing evidence of marijuana’s ability to provide relief from
Crohn’s disease symptoms, medical use of marijuana remains illegal in
some states. Shona Banda, a Kansas mother who uses marijuana oil as
therapy for Crohn’s disease, recently had her home
by the Garden City Police Department after her son’s school reported
comments he made in favor of marijuana during an anti-drug presentation.
She is also fighting for custody of her son after the Department of
Children and Families took him from her home, saying her use of
marijuana to control her debilitating illness was putting the child in
Banda was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2000 and began using
marijuana oil as therapy for her symptoms in 2009. She claims marijuana
has worked better than prescribed medicines. Banda and her son
previously resided in Colorado, where marijuana is legal for
recreational use. However, possession of marijuana is illegal in Kansas
and can result in a year of jail time and a $1,000 fine, according to
the Marijuana Policy Project. A
bill that allows patients to use marijuana oil is advancing in the
Kansas state legislature, according to the Kansas City
If it passes, Kansas will join 23 states that currently have laws
allowing medical marijuana use.
Crohn’s disease affects an estimated 700,000
and conventional medicines often offer little relief. Medical marijuana
offers hope and may relieve symptoms more effectively than standard
treatment. Legalization of marijuana for medical use could make it
easier for patients with Crohn’s disease to benefit from the therapeutic
effects of marijuana without breaking the law. Many patients who could
greatly benefit from medical marijuana are being denied access to the
therapy, which is a problem HelloMD hopes to see change as the medicinal
benefits of marijuana become more legitimized.