A tall, thin teenager with a crewcut, Robert came to my office with his parents seeking help in treating ulcerative colitis. Diagnosed two years prior, he was struggling with chronic abdominal; pain, bloody diarrhea, poor appetite, and weight loss. It was no surprise he expressed feeling depressed and hopeless. He had been on numerous treatments that did not help, and according to his parents, the pharmaceuticals he tried seemed to be making him sicker, not better. He had received multiple blood transfusions due to the anemia caused by loss of blood through his gut. At the most recent visit with his GI specialist, surgery to remove part of his colon was discussed, causing Robert much distress.
“I feel like this could be my medicine, but I don’t want to be a criminal for using it.”
Prior to meeting with me, Robert’s parents caught him smoking cannabis. They were not surprised, as lately they had noticed something was different about him — maybe a lighter attitude and fewer complaints of discomfort. As a family, they googled “cannabis for ulcerative colitis” and decided to pursue this treatment with medical supervision, as they all agreed surgery would be a last resort. When I asked Robert how cannabis helped him, he reported that all of his physical symptoms were reduced, and that he felt “normal” for a few hours. He and his parents had concerns that he was buying cannabis from unknown sources and that he was at risk for getting into legal trouble. He stated maturely, “I feel like this could be my medicine, but I don’t want to be a criminal for using it.