Marijuana Use in Adolescents/Young Adults with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A recent study (EJ Hoffenberg et al. J Pediatr 2018; 199: 99-105) examined the use of marijuana in 13-23 year age group with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at the Children’s Hospital for Colorado.

This relatively small study (n=99 — 62 with Crohn’s, 27 with ulcerative colitis, 10 with indeterminate colitis) found the following:

  • Marijuana use was endorsed by 32 (32%) and that 9 used daily or almost-daily.
  • Users were 10.7 times more likely to perceive low risk of harm (P<.001)
  • 17 of 30 stated a medical reason for use (16 with physical pain)
  • The most common route of use was smoking (83%)


  • 80% of participants had inactive or mild disease
  • There was no control (non-IBD) group to compare frequency of marijuana use
  • Study performed in state with legalized recreational marijuana

My take: We know very little about how marijuana impacts IBD course and whether it is safe.  This study indicates frequent use of marijuana in the 13-23 year age group.  Thus, it is an issue that needs to be examined further.

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