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How the 'War' on Medical Marijuana Affects Me as a Crohn's Patient

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It’s no secret that marijuana is used to treat countless disorders and diseases. In fact, more than half of the United States has legalized medical marijuana for patients with qualifying conditions. As of March 1, of 2016, more than 1.2 million Americans were registered medical marijuana card holders. Despite legality, scientific research, and my own living testimony, I still find myself constantly explaining and justifying treatment with marijuana.

I have been struggling with chronic pain and illness for the last six years of my life due to my Crohn’s disease. I’ve struggled to eat since I was 16 years old; I actually ended up on a feeding tube at one point. The last medication I used to treat long term nausea and vomiting gave me an irreversible neurological condition. Seemingly out of options, I turned to marijuana, since it has been proven to be safer than any of the previous drugs I’ve tried. I didn’t use medical marijuana until I became an adult, but since I’ve started using marijuana on a regular to semi-regular basis, I can actually eat full meals throughout the day without vomiting or abdominal pain. The best part? I don’t have any negative side effects while using cannabis.

I’m not the only medical marijuana patient to claim marijuana helps my debilitating condition — just ask the other 92 percent of users who say the same. My marijuana use is not something I typically share with people outside of my family and close friends because I’m afraid. Medical marijuana patients are often shrugged off as stoners, addicts, potheads, etc. People can’t seem to realize that marijuana is a real, working medicine and treatment.

Not only is the social stigma a downer, but using medical marijuana can have serious consequences. Many companies prohibit the use of marijuana in any circumstance, often resulting in patients having to sacrifice their treatment just to keep a job. Or reversibly, patients end up unemployed because marijuana is their only treatment option. Patients who are also parents and guardians have had encounters with child protective services (CPS), and some have even lost custody of their children over their private and personal use of medical marijuana. Just recently, the NFL suspended Seantrel Henderson for his use of medical marijuana to treat his Crohn’s disease. He’s using marijuana for the exact same reasons I do, and he’s being punished.

As a chronically ill patient who looks to marijuana as one of the few working treatments available, I feel like the world is against me. I don’t understand why so many people have to fight for their right to a healthier and happier life. My medical marijuana is a right, and it’s discriminatory to hold anyone’s medical treatment against them in any circumstance.

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Thinkstock photo by Antonio Guillem

Originally published: December 13, 2016
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