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  • Writer's pictureAaron Killion

Can You Get a Medical Card for Crohn's Disease?

The question of whether you can get a medical card for Crohn's disease may be of interest to the approximately 780,000 Americans that live with this condition (according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation). Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to digestive tract symptoms including abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, and gut inflammation, as well as other symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition.

There is currently no known cure for Crohn's. However, some therapies have shown evidence of helping to ease certain Crohn's disease symptoms. Medical marijuana for Crohn's is one option that may provide symptom relief.

What States Allow MMJ Cards for Crohn's Disease?

You can get a medical card for Crohn's disease in 25 states at the time of writing, including Arizona. Though medical marijuana cards are currently available for qualifying patients in 38 states, each state decides whether or not to approve marijuana as a treatment for Crohn’s disease.

States where you can currently get a medical card for Crohn's symptoms include:

  • Alabama

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas

  • Connecticut

  • Florida

  • Hawaii

  • Illinois

  • Louisiana

  • Maine

  • Massachusetts

  • Michigan

  • Minnesota

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • Montana

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey

  • New Mexico

  • North Dakota

  • Ohio

  • Pennsylvania

  • Rhode Island

  • Utah

  • Vermont

  • Washington

Patients living in Phoenix, Mesa, or anywhere in Arizona can get a medical card for Crohn’s by providing medical records to prove they have an AZ qualifying condition and booking an online MMJ appointment. After the application is sent to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the digital card is generally ready within five working days. Patients must then renew their AZ MMJ card every two years.

How Does Medical Marijuana Help with Crohn's Disease?

Medical cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with some of the symptoms of Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis. These conditions can cause symptoms like chronic pain and discomfort, joint pain, skin rashes, and chronic inflammation.

Though some medical marijuana patients testify to the efficacy of cannabis in alleviating these symptoms, there is still debate in the scientific community. The main points of debate include: (1) how far cannabis can go to relieve these symptoms and (2) if the benefits outweigh the potential risks associated with cannabis consumption.

There are various reasons why patients may try medical cannabis as a Crohn's disease treatment:

  • Cannabis is often used as an analgesic to treat many different conditions. Pain is a common side effect of Crohn’s disease.

  • Cannabis may be appealing to some patients as a “natural” product.

  • Some patients wish to try complementary treatments as an alternative to or together with conventional prescription medications.

The extent to which patients use cannabis to treat their symptoms largely comes down to the individual and the advice they receive from doctors. Some patients may use cannabis to control one particular symptom, such as pain, and choose to follow a more conventional course of treatment to combat the disease as a whole.

What Does Science Say About Cannabis Use to Treat Crohn's?

In a 2011 study on cannabis use for Crohn's disease, Naftali et al. observed that medical cannabis was associated with an improvement in disease activity. Complete remission was achieved in 5 of 11 subjects in the cannabis group in a 2013 study by the same lead author. Only 1 of 10 subjects experienced complete remission in the placebo group.

Because cannabis is widely used to reduce chronic pain caused by many different conditions, there is a body of data to suggest that marijuana can be an effective pain reliever. It may be possible to conclude that although vigorous study into the effects of marijuana specifically on Crohn’s is lacking, medical marijuana could be an effective option for controlling pain and discomfort caused by the disease.

Anecdotal Evidence Supports Cannabis’s Role in Treating Crohn’s

Because scientific data on cannabis’s role in treating Crohn’s disease is limited, anecdotal evidence can be useful for understanding how cannabis may affect you. According to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, IBD patients taking cannabis to relieve symptoms reported improvements in joint pain, abdominal pain, and cramping after using cannabis. These same patients also noted improvements in sleep, diarrhea, nausea, and appetite after consuming marijuana.

If you have Crohn’s and have problems sleeping, consumers suggest that these cannabis strains for sleep might help. Either smoking cannabis or using cannabis-based products may also help with abdominal pain, joint pain, and cramping. If you’d like to try cannabis for these or any other Crohn’s symptoms, it’s best to see an experienced MMJ doctor for product and dosage recommendations. A measured approach and medical supervision are especially important for helping you prevent problems such as cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, which can result from overconsumption.

Consult an MMJ Doctor About Cannabis for Crohn's Disease

Medical conditions like Crohn's and colitis can be debilitating and that's why it's only natural to search for ways to alleviate their symptoms. Cannabis may help to treat Crohn's disease symptoms (especially pain and nausea) with minimal side effects, resulting in an improved quality of life.

Patients living in certain states may qualify for a medical marijuana card that will give them access to medical-grade cannabis with additional benefits like tax breaks and larger possession limits in selected states. Find out what you’re eligible for and seek medical guidance if you’re interested in trying marijuana for Crohn’s disease.


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