Medical pot use may help sickle cell anemia patients


New Haven, CT: Medical cannabis use is associated with less frequent hospitalizations among patients living with sickle cell disease (SCD), according to clinical data published in the journal Blood Advances.

A team of investigators affiliated with Yale University in Connecticut and the Sackler School of Medicine in Israel assessed the relationship between cannabis use and hospitalization rates in patients with SCD over a six-month period.

They reported, “The patients who obtained medical marijuana showed a reduction in median six-month hospital admissions compared with the patients who … did not obtain medical marijuana.”

Their findings are consistent with a pair of prior studies – one from 2018 and one from earlier this year – similarly reporting reduced rates of hospitalization among SCD patients who initiate cannabis therapy.

Survey data indicates that the use of medicinal cannabis for symptom management is relatively common among SCD patients. Clinical trial data published in July reported that the short-term use of vaporized cannabis in SCD patients is associated with improved mood and may also mitigate symptoms of SCD-related pain. That study’s authors concluded: “People with SCD are often using multiple medications. Since no significant adverse effects were observed, this proof of principle study has the potential to encourage and guide future larger and longer investigations into the potential use of cannabis-based interventions.”

Full text of the study, “Medical marijuana certification for patients with sickle cell disease: A report of a single-center experience,” appears in Blood Advances.

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