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Patient Chooses: Die From Crohn’s Or Join Medical Refugees

Lydia K. RN
crohns intestine

Medical Refugees are a new breed of patient that have to leave their home state to access cannabis medicine.

While many states move towards the full legalization of cannabis, Kentucky has stubbornly refused to rescind any of its stringent laws. The possession or sale of cannabis remains illegal throughout Kentucky, much to the detriment of medical cannabis patients. It is small consolation that a law passed in April 2014 (Senate Bill 124) allowed CBD extracts for medical purposes. For patients who need  THC, the solution has been to leave the state and start over.  The migration of  ‘medical refugees’ is growing in volume and becoming the loudest opponents of prohibition.

Patient “X” Has Severe Crohn’s Disease

Nineteen-year-old “X” suffered from severe Crohn’s disease from the time she was sixteen. Consequently, she spent the better part of her teenage years moving in and out of hospital. The disease progressed very rapidly, to the point that she was unable to eat or drink because the pain from inflammation was too severe.

Crohn’s is a bowel disease caused by gross inflammation of the digestive tract. It can affect all regions of the gut and cause symptoms such as: severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy. Malnutrition is a common problem as the disease worsens over time. This is a lifelong disease that is painful, debilitating, and may lead to serious complications.

During a severe flare up, X was admitted to hospital with complete loss of appetite. The medical team attending to her treated the case urgently. Her gut was so inflamed that X was not obtaining nutrients needed to stay alive. As the days passed, she appeared to slowly drift toward death.

At this time, the pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to X were not providing respite; she remained in constant pain.

animation of inflammation in the gut

Mom Has Enough And Gets Illegal Cannabis

After four days of watching her daughter whither away under severe pain and inflammation, mom insisted on cannabis. The mother of X had found many anecdotal reports backed by research to support a trial of cannabis oil.

Cannabis medicine was given to X every four hours. On the third day, her pain started to fade away and she asked for something to eat! X went from agony to eating after four days on cannabis.

But it’s not all triumph. The family has to continually travel outside of Kentucky to get X’s medicine. It is an illegal act that could earn any one of them prison time. The X family are a brand of medical refugees that are all too common in the hold-out states.

How Cannabis Helps Crohn’s Disease

Cannabis has been shown to induce appetite in cannabis consumers. A lab study conducted on mice revealed that cannabis alters hormone feedback loops in the brain, stimulating appetite. This study also concluded that cannabis binds to olfactory receptors to enhance the aroma of food. CBD and THC are two cannabinoids that help Crohn’s patients. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine, while THC provides pain relief.

cannabis, Crohn's, IBD, medical cannabis appetite, pain, inflammation, anti-inflammatory, CBD, THC, Kentucky, pain,

Kentucky House Bill 136

Things appear to be moving slowly in the legislative chambers in Kentucky. House Bill 136  has received the support of retired district judge Rob Wiederstein. Fortunately, the bill had a landslide 71% win with both Republicans and Democrats supporting it when it was first voted upon.

However, Rep. Senator Robby Mills has put some stops in the process. He has insisted on doctors taking the lead, after conducting their own research and safety studies, as is the norm with all FDA-approved drugs. Senator Mills recently reported to The Gleaner: “While I understand this is a very emotional issue for some, I do not believe politicians should be deciding what medicine is and what medicine is not.”

Mills went on to emphasize the importance of sticking with the usual drug approval process as outlined by the FDA standards. He cited the detrimental effects, both physical and mental, that are associated – rightly or wrongly – with the abuse of cannabis as reasons for his reservations. He also intimated that should the FDA approve the use of medical cannabis, he would have no qualms with fully supporting the bill. This looks positive, and one can only hope those on the federal level begin to move a little quicker toward full legalization.

cannabis, Crohn's, IBD, medical cannabis appetite, pain, inflammation, anti-inflammatory, CBD, THC, Kentucky, pain, Robby Mills

Via WPSD, Senator Robby Mills

Increasing Stories and Studies for Crohn’s

X is not the only Crohn’s patient who has benefited from using cannabis. Caroline Crews was also able to see her Crohn’s disease go into full remission by using cannabis oil. But beyond anecdotal evidence, a recent study conducted in Israel revealed that cannabis greatly improves symptoms of Crohn’s disease and the quality of life. In fact, it is reported that 65% of Crohn’s patients went into remission during the course of the study.

These studies and stories supporting medical cannabis provide hope for those who rely on out-of-state dispensaries or black market dealers. Becoming medical refugees, by either illegally bringing cannabis across state borders or by moving to a legal state altogether, is no solution.

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Lydia Kariuki

RN, Expert medical writer who is passionate about cannabis!

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