Cannabis may be a potential treatment option for those with sickle cell disease, according to a new study published on the website of the National Institute of Health.
“Legal access to marijuana, most frequently as “medical marijuana,” is becoming more common in the United States, but most states do not specify sickle cell disease as a qualifying condition”, states the study. “We were aware that some of our patients living with sickle cell disease used illicit marijuana, and we sought more information about this.” Sickle cell disease, according to Mayo Clinic, is “A group of disorders that cause red blood cells to become misshapen and break down.”
For the study, researchers “practice at an urban, academic medical center and provide primary, secondary, and tertiary care for ∼130 adults living with sickle cell disease. We surveyed our patients with a brief, anonymous, paper-and-pen instrument.” They “reviewed institutional records for clinically driven urine drug testing” and “tracked patient requests for certification for medical marijuana.”
Among 58 patients surveyed, 42% reported marijuana use within the past 2 years. Among users, “most endorsed five medicinal indications; a minority reported recreational use.” Among 57 patients who had at least one urine drug test, 18% tested positive for cannabinoids only, 12% tested positive for cocaine and/or phencyclidine only, and 5% tested positive for both cannabinoids and cocaine/phencyclidine.
“Our findings and those of others create a rationale for research into the possible therapeutic effects of marijuana or cannabinoids, the presumed active constituents of marijuana, in sickle cell disease”, states researchers. “Explicit inclusion of sickle cell disease as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana might reduce illicit marijuana use and related risks and costs to both persons living with sickle cell disease and society.”
More information on this study, including its full text, can be found by clicking here.