Medical Cannabis Use Patterns and Adverse Effects in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2022 Oct 14. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001782. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Goals: To investigate medical cannabis (MC) use patterns and adverse effects in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Background: MC is now legal in many states. Although previous studies suggest improvement in disease activity among IBD patients using MC, use patterns and adverse effects are unclear.

Study: A cross-sectional anonymous survey was conducted (October 23, 2020 to January 24, 2021) among patients accessing MC dispensaries in New York and Minnesota. Eligibility criteria: age 18 years or older, selfreported IBD diagnosis, MC dispensary purchase. Survey questions included IBD characteristics, MC and healthcare utilization, and MC effects/adverse events. Participant characteristics were analyzed with descriptive statistics. Utilization patterns and symptoms before and after MC use were compared using the Stuart Maxwell test.

Results: Of 236 respondents, overall IBD disease activity was mild-to-moderate. Most respondents (61.0%) took a biological. Median frequency of MC use was at least once within the past week. Most respondents used products with high Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol content (87.5%) through vape pens/cartridges (78.6%). Respondents reported fewer emergency room visits in the 12 months after versus before MC use (35.2 vs 41.5%, P<0.01) and less impact of symptoms on daily life. Most respondents reported euphoria with MC use (75.4%). The other common side effects were feeling drowsy, groggy, or with memory lapses (4.2%), dry mouth/eyes (3.4%), and anxiety/depression or paranoia (3.4%). Few respondents reported MC diversion (1.3%).

Conclusions: MC users with IBD perceive symptom benefits and report decreased emergency room visits without serious adverse effects. Further studies are needed to confirm these results with objective measures of healthcare utilization and disease activity.