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scientific articles

The use of cannabis by patients with sickle cell disease increased the frequency of hospitalization due to vaso-occlusive crises

key information

source: Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research

year: 2017

authors: Samir K. Ballas


The objective of this study was to determine if patients with sickle cell disease using cannabis had decreased frequency of acute vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs) that required hospitalization.

This was a retrospective study in which 270 urine drug screen tests were done on 72 patients: 40 males and 32 females.

Cannabinoids were found in 144 urine tests from 37 patients and were negative in 126 tests from 35 patients. Males who used cannabis were significantly younger (p<0.001) than males who did not. Patients who tested positive used benzodiazepines, cocaine, and phencyclidine significantly more often than patients who tested negative. There was no significant difference in the amounts of opioids consumed by users and nonusers of cannabis. The cannabis cohort was seen in the clinic significantly (p<0.05) less often than controls, but hospital admissions were significantly greater in the cannabis group than controls (p<0.05).

These data show an unexpected negative effect of cannabis on the frequency of VOCs. This may be due to the effect of cannabis on the brain and/or the severity of the disease in the cannabis users. More controlled studies are needed to clarify these findings.

organization: Thomas Jefferson University, USA

DOI: 10.1089/can.2017.0011

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