When patients with bowel problems ask about cannabis, gastroenterologists need to be prepared with the straight dope. “We get questions from … patients all the time” about medical marijuana, said Adam Cheifetz, MD, director of the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease [IBD] at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston.
A 2014 study found that between 16% and 50% of IBD patients report using cannabis to control their symptoms, and the majority claim the drug is “very helpful” (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2014;20:472-480), Dr. Cheifetz said. Moreover, roughly half of patients with Crohn’s disease who have not used cannabis expressed interest in doing so if the substance were legal.
A request for a cannabis prescription might leave physicians wondering what they can and cannot do, since cannabis is considered a Schedule I drug federally but is permitted for medical use in 25 states and the District of Columbia, according to Governing magazine.
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