Marijuana and Crohn's Disease

Research PaperDrugs
Nov 2, 2019

Many efforts have been made towards the search for the medical use of marijuana, and among them is the attempt to establish the curative link between the substance and Crohn’s disease. Marijuana has faced a fluctuating history of prominence. On the one hand, it has been partially accepted for its medicinal properties; on the other, it underwent widespread inhibition, in large part because of its recreational capabilities. Given recent notable advancements in medical findings of the use of the substance, it is imperative for there to be widespread societal acceptance of marijuana in order to cure Crohn’s Disease and other inflammatory diseases.

Crohn’s Disease is a chronic medical condition that causes inflammation around the digestive tract. Its symptoms range from diarrhea, uncontrollable weight loss, loss of appetite, and other gastrointestinal occurrences. Its effects are also immunological, compromising the normal functions of the immune system. As a chronic disease, its overall impact on the body grow worse over time. Altogether, Crohn’s Disease deals a significantly adverse impact on the quality of life as frequently reported by those who have the condition.

The most cited curative link between marijuana and Crohn’s Disease is stemmed in the anti-inflammatory characteristics of marijuana due to having compounds called cannabinoids. As Crohn’s Disease is partly marked by an inflammation within the digestive tract, the cannabinoids released by the consumption of marjiuana may cure the inflammation. Furthermore, among the cannabinoids in marijuana is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which has psychological effects. One of these is a significant increase in appetite, leading some medical researchers to further believe that marijuana is a suitable cure for Crohn's Disease.

A chief study by Kafil T.S., Nguyen T.M., MacDonald J.K., and Chande N. supports the medicinal link between marijuana and Crohn's Disease. It compared the remission rates caused in each group consuming either cannabis sticks, cannabis oil, and placebo to treat their Crohn's Disease. Remission rate is the percentage that shows how much of the symptoms of a condition have decreased. The group that consumed cannabis sticks has shown to have a greater remission rate than the group that took placebo. The cannabis oil group, on the other hand, showed only minute differences in remission rate from the placebo group.

However, this study bears some flaws. It does not completely determine the medicinal link between marijuana and Crohn's Disease. The researchers cannot accurately ascertain the causal link between the two and how exactly the consumption of cannabis sticks, and not cannabis oil, led to a higher remission rate. Furthermore, while the substance may have alleviated the inflammatory symptoms of the condition, it does not completely cover the disease as a whole. Crohn's Disease is marked by other symptoms as well. It may be that the consumption of cannabis sticks only resolves only the inflammatory symptoms of Crohn's Disease and not its symptoms as a whole.

The glaring weakness of this study, and all similar studies on marijuana in general, is marked by the overall lack of research. Primarily, this is because of the widespread legal restraints across the United States. Marijuana is listed among the items considered as "gateway drugs," because it is feared to further substance and drug abuse in society. As a result, medical research on the marijuana has been vastly limited. Though there have been past attempts, they themselves are constrained due to lack of medical precedents and supporting research. Any attempt to endorse marijuana as a medicine, even for Crohn's Disease alone, would many legal, societal, and academic obstacles.

Ultimately, the difficulty in advancing marijuana as a medical drug is societal influence. Despite much evidence showing its usefulness, marijuana has seen much difficulty in being accepted by society as a whole. The concerns raised are legitimate: misuse of marijuana may have detrimental effects, to an extent. Such concerns, however, cannot discount the medical usability that marijuana is proven to have. Due to this, the acceptability of marijuana in society is a matter of forward progression than a mere shift. To accept it, in other words, is to bring general benefit. Crohn’s Disease is only one among many diseases that have been shown to be curable - or at least to have its symptoms improved - by marijuana.

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