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Patients frequently turning to cannabis to treat symptoms of sickle cell disease

Medical cannabis use is relatively common among patients with sickle cell disease, according to survey data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Investigators at Yale University conducted an anonymous questionnaire among 58 patients with the disease. Forty-two percent of respondents reported having used cannabis within the past two years, and 31 percent reported having used it within the past month.

Most respondents said that they did so for therapeutic purposes. Common symptoms of sickle cell disease include pain, fatigue, and swelling of the hands and feet.

Many respondents acknowledged that the use of cannabis “allowed for less use of pain medications” – a finding that is consistent with reports from other cohorts of chronic pain patients.

To date, the use of medicinal cannabis has not been evaluated in controlled settings for patients with sickle cell disease.