Profiles of Patients Who Use Marijuana for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Kerlin AM1, Long M2, Kappelman M2, Martin C2, Sandler RS2. Dig Dis Sci. 2018 Mar 29. doi: 10.1007/s10620-018-5040-5. [Epub ahead of print]

Author information

1 Luther Rice College and Seminary, 3038 Evans Mill Rd, Lithonia, GA, 30038, USA. ann.kerlin@lutherrice.edu.

2 Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


BACKGROUND: Marijuana is legal in a number of states for indications that include inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and patients are interested in its potential benefits.

AIMS: We aimed to describe the legal use of marijuana in individuals with IBD in the USA who participate within the CCFA Partners internet-based cohort.

METHODS: A total of 2357 participants who lived in states where prescription or recreational marijuana was legal, were offered the opportunity to complete a survey on marijuana use and IBD symptoms including perceived benefits of therapy. Bivariate statistics and logistic regression models were used to determine factors associated with marijuana use.

RESULTS: Surveys were completed by 1666 participants (71%) with only 214 (12.8%) indicating they had asked their medical doctor about its use and 73 actually using prescribed marijuana (4.4%). Within the respondent group (N = 1666), 234 participants lived where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal and 49 (20.9%) reported recreational marijuana use specifically for IBD. Users reported positive benefits (80.7%), but users also reported more depression, anxiety, pain interference, and lower social satisfaction than non-users. Those prescribed marijuana reported more active disease, and more use of steroids, narcotics, and zolpidem.

CONCLUSIONS: Few IBD patients consulted their medical doctors about marijuana use or used prescription marijuana. Where recreational marijuana was available, usage rates were higher. Users reported benefits but also more IBD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and pain. Marijuana use may be higher in patients with IBD symptoms not well treated by conventional medical approaches.

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