Marijuana as medicine is now legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Patients in these locations need to be certified to use it based on a doctor’s recommendation and a qualifying condition. Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is not listed as a qualifying condition in any of the states, but most list chronic pain or muscle spasticity, which would qualify most IC patients. If you are in one of these states and are interested in trying marijuana as a medicine for your IC, here are some of the things you need to know and consider:

  • IC patients’ comments to the ICA about medical marijuana are mostly positive, but some are negative. The effects may depend on the strain and method of delivery.
  • Studies on medical marijuana and IC are lacking. It is nearly impossible to study in the United States because of federal restrictions. We may learn more soon from other countries.
  • Current approved marijuana-like drugs contain the most psychoactive marijuana component (THC) or a variation of it. Other marijuana compounds, however, may be more helpful for pain and inflammation. Some marijuana strains and drugs under development reduce or eliminate THC and emphasize these other compounds.
  • If you live in a state where medical marijuana is not legal, you cannot go to a state where it is legal and use it.
  • Safe use depends on consulting a knowledgeable physician in a reputable medical marijuana clinic and on dispensaries and knowledgeable caregivers who understand IC and the marijuana strains that might be appropriate for it.
  • State and federal marijuana laws conflict, and recent federal and local actions may make safe access difficult. Understand what the restrictions are where you live so you won’t risk legal problems and can use carefully recommended and safely dispensed medical marijuana.
  • Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, some pain care contracts or medical practices may require that you not use medical marijuana. Learn your doctor’s requirements for care before making your making your decision.

You can learn much more about medical marijuana and IC in our ICA Update feature “Running Ahead of Research on Medical Marijuana,” in the Fall 2011 issue.

Revised Tuesday, May 26th, 2015