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Patients With Sickle Cell Disease Find Relief From Cannabis, Study Says

Thursday, 22 September 2005

London, United Kingdom: More than one third of patients suffering from sickle cell disease (SCD) report using cannabis to obtain therapeutic relief, and more than half would be willing to participate in clinical trials of the drug's efficacy, according to the results of an anonymous questionnaire study to be published in the October issue of the British Journal of Haematology.

Eighty-six hospitalized patients with SCD participated in the survey. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported having used cannabis in the past 12 months to relieve symptoms associated with the disease. Of these, 52 percent said that they had used cannabis to reduce pain, and 39 percent reported that it mitigated their anxiety and feelings of depression.

The majority of patients (58 percent) expressed their willingness to participate in clinical trials of cannabis as a medicine.

"We conclude that research in the use of cannabinoids for pain relief in SCD would be both important and acceptable to adult patients," authors concluded.

Sickle cell disease is a chronic condition that targets the body's red blood cells and is characterized by episodic pain in the joints, fever, leg ulcers, and jaundice, among other symptoms. In the United States, SCD affects about one in 650 African Americans and about half as many Latin Americans.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Cannabis use in sickle cell disease: a questionnaire study," will appear in the October issue of the British Journal of Haematology.