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My name is Alex and I am a Crohn’s patient who uses cannabis to relieve my symptoms.

Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the bowel, gut or intestines. It causes severe weight loss, diarrhoea, and means those suffering with it cannot take in the nutrients they need to be healthy, other symptoms include chronic pain and fatigue.

Cannabis means I have an appetite, it reduces my pain dramatically and it helps me get to sleep. I usually smoke or vaporise before & after most meals and before bed to help me get off to sleep without any pain and it also seems to reduce my night time toilet trips. It also helps me keep my weight up. Without it I fear I might waste away and become scarily underweight, as many Crohn’s patients do.

I smoke, vape and eat it. I would much rather have safe, legal access to oils, dabs and other potent medical-grade cannabis. Having to pay a fortune to get illegal cannabis that is not grown for medical purposes is incredibly frustrating as I know (having on occasion been lucky enough to try it) medically grown cannabis would be a much more effective medicine.

Through being on a number of forums for those with Crohn’s, and the other form of IBD Ulcerative Colitis, I have discovered that a great deal of people suffering with my condition use cannabis. People from all over the world of all different ages and walks of life are using it to help them get by day to day. Some live in countries where they can get it on prescription, and others like myself are unable to due to the archaic, out-dated laws that are still in place today in the UK.

I often wonder how we can consider ourselves forerunners of modern society and healthcare here in the UK when our fears and the stigma attached to this plant, that is repeatedly proven to be both of massive medical use and also harmless compared to many prescription meds, stop us from allowing those who are suffering to alleviate their pain and discomfort. As far as I’m concerned it should be a criminal act to prevent people from reducing their own pain with laws that follow no scientific data whatsoever.

The UPA is doing great things just getting the word out about how drastically myself, and others suffering with a huge array of debilitating and awful illnesses need this plant as our medicine. I think the hardest obstacle in our way is simply social stigma; people have been conditioned to fear cannabis as some kind of hellish “gateway drug”, which, anyone who’s tried it knows is simply not the case. We need to normalise use and end the stigma, be proud of our cannabis consuming and educate as many people as possible about how much it helps us and the difference it makes to our lives.

I was a recreational user before I became sick, but even before being diagnosed I knew that my smoking was helping me deal with my condition. I fell sick at the end of my first year of university studying at Sussex in Brighton. I was in immense pain and was in and out of the toilet more times than I could count in a day, it was truly horrible. I noticed that when I smoked the pain was drastically reduced and I was able to get to sleep or have a few hours without needing the toilet. I had my first year exams to get through before I had a chance to see a specialist doctor and get a proper diagnosis (I’d actually been given laxatives by a foolish NHS GP in hove, with horrific consequences). I realised that the only way I was going to get through my exams was to smoke beforehand. It worked too, I smoked about half an hour before turning up to my exams and was able to get through them in minimal pain and with few enough toilet trips that I was able to finish the exam papers in the allowed time.

I thank Cannabis for getting my through that tough time. I truly believe I would not have gotten through that week of exams without smoking it and I have never looked back. I now smoke or vape it daily and it has no negative effect on my psychological state. In fact I would say it only serves to calm me and make me happy, something that is much appreciated when you spend your days suffering from any chronic illness. It’s use reducing stress and anxiety is definitely evident to me.

I have tried not smoking, and my symptoms always increase dramatically, my pain is worsened and I often can’t sleep or eat without severe discomfort. I also have taken prescription meds, and have tried not taking those, and the difference is minimal. I can safely say that cannabis is the most effective treatment for my Crohn’s disease that I’ve tried. I hope that, with the help of the UPA I can have safe, legal access to it as soon as possible.