The Role of Cannabis in the Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Review of Clinical, Scientific, and Regulatory Information: Commissioned by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation

Swaminath A1, Berlin EP2, Cheifetz A3, Hoffenberg E4, Kinnucan J5, Wingate L6, Buchanan S7, Zmeter N8, Rubin DT8. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2018 Oct 24. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izy319. [Epub ahead of print]

Author information

1 Department of Medicine, Northwell Health, Great Neck, New York, USA.

2 Jones Day Law Firm, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

3 Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

4 Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Children's Hospital Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA.

5 Department of Medicine, University of Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

6 Crohn's and Colitis Foundation; New York, New York, USA.

7 Crohn's and Colitis Foundation; New York, NY, USA.

8 University of Chicago Medicine Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


There is significant interest among patients and providers in using cannabis (marijuana) and its derivatives to treat a number of chronic illnesses, including inflammatory bowel disease. Despite the Schedule I classification of cannabis by the federal government, state governments have sought ways to make cannabis available for specific medical conditions, and some states have legalized cannabis outright. This white paper summarizes the preclinical data, clinical data, safety data, and the regulatory landscape as they apply to medical cannabis use in inflammatory bowel disease. Animal models of cannabinoid chemistry and physiology give evidence of anti-inflammatory, antidiarrheal, and nociceptive-limiting properties. Human studies have found benefit in controlling symptoms and improving quality of life, but no studies have established true disease modification given the absent improvement in biomarker profiles or endoscopic healing.Finally, this review describes the legal, regulatory, and practical hurdles to studying the risks and benefits of medical cannabis in the United States.

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