Study: Sickle Cell Disease Patients Who Use Cannabis Less Likely to Require Hospitalization

New Haven, CT: Sickle cell disease (SCD) patients who consume cannabis on a daily basis have lower rates of hospital admissions than do similarly matched non-users, according to data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Investigators with the Yale School of Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin assessed hospitalization rates among SCD patients with and without a history of cannabis use. 

They reported that SCD patients who used cannabis daily had "1.8 fewer annual [hospital] admissions and 1.2 fewer emergency room (ER) visits" as compared to non-users.

Authors concluded, "We show that people with SCD with more severe pain crisis are more likely to use daily cannabis, yet have lower rates of hospital admission and ER use as compared with others with similar disease severity and pain impact."

The finding is consistent with that of a 2018 study which reported reduced rates of hospitalization among SCD patients who initiated cannabis therapy.

Although the use of medicinal cannabis for symptom management is relatively common among SCD patients, clinical trial data assessing its safety and efficacy in this patient population remains lacking.

Full text of the study, "Daily cannabis users with sickle cell disease show fewer admissions than others with similar pain complaints," appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.