Marijuana Use in Adults Living with Sickle Cell Disease

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Introduction: 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. We were aware that some of our patients living with sickle cell disease used illicit marijuana, and we sought more information about this. Materials and Methods: We 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. We reviewed institutional records for clinically driven urine drug testing. We tracked patient requests for certification for medical marijuanaResults: 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. Subsequent to these studies, sickle cell disease became a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in our state. In the interval ∼1.5 years, 44 patients have requested certification. Conclusion: 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. 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.

This article originally appeared here in https://www.weedworldmagazine.org/2019/06/02/medical-cannabiscannabinoidsickle-cell-diseasequalifying-condition/

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