Interview With Andrea Siragusa 

By Karen Berger, PharmD, Medical Writer 

Andrea Siragusa lives in Edison, NJ, with his wife, son, and labradoodle, Rudi. He commutes daily into New York City, where he has been working as an electrician for 37 years. In his spare time, Andrea enjoys gardening, cooking, and helping families with special needs children. Before using medical cannabis, Andrea says that he has tried “every prescription drug under the sun to cure my IBS without results.” Andrea has never used opioids. Andrea’s wife suggested that he try CBD, which he agreed to soon after – “as things did not improve, I became desperate. My IBS was having a negative impact on my daily life.

I started missing days from work, so I decided to ask my GI doctor if cannabis would help me.” Andrea describes the process as relatively painless, with his gastroenterologist and staff helping with the application and insurance processing for office visits. “Getting cannabis is easy – the hardest thing is the current price of $500 for an ounce,” he jokes. 

Like many others, Andrea felt skeptical at first – he didn’t know if medical cannabis would help his symptoms, and he worried about possible side effects. He started by micro dosing all day long and using heavier doses on the bad days that IBS prevented him from going to work.

 Andrea has become quite adept at managing his symptoms with medical cannabis. Although he started using medical marijuana for IBS pain, “now I take it for everything – my health has greatly improved, no more thyroid problems, no more high blood pressure – I used to be on so many meds I believe they were poisoning me, and causing more problems,” he said. “Medical marijuana has helped me a great deal – I can honestly say it has given me my life back.”

After suffering from the debilitating effects of IBS for over 40 years, with constantly worsening symptoms, as well as becoming gluten and casein intolerant, Andrea believes “medical marijuana is the one thing that has helped me the most.” 

After his latest physical, Andrea was pleased to discover that he was able to stop all of his other medications for blood pressure, thyroid, and glucose – “my A1C is at 6.5- my lowest ever!” Andrea’s favorite strains of medical marijuana are Bubblegum and Canna Tsu for daytime, and Animal Crackers and black water two hours before bedtime. 

He prefers edibles, and “I’ve tried anything from oil to butter – I use it on everything I eat,” he says.  

Andrea spends approximately $500 a month on medical cannabis, which is not affordable for him. He does enjoy spending less, though, on insurance copays for all the medications he no longer needs. Andrea believes that insurance should cover medical cannabis – “prescription medications are so much more expensive – I’m actually saving the insurance company  money, and since it’s medical, insurance should pay for it,” he says. 

Andrea wants people to feel encouraged by his story of recovery, which he says began six months ago after 40 years of pain. In addition to feeling great and no longer needing prescription medication, Andrea is slowly reintroducing some of the foods he had previously eliminated from his diet, even gluten in small amounts. “Now I know I’m no doctor, and I know many of you are going to say ‘I’ve tried this, that, and the other thing.

I can only tell you that I’ve tried everything at once – medications, fodmap diet, alternative medicine, and I’ve been very strict, but the medical marijuana has helped the most and continues to help the most!”

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