Cannabis use in sickle cell disease: a questionnaire study

Br J Haematol. 2005 Oct;131(1):123-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2005.05723.x.


Cannabinoids are increasingly being considered for the management of various painful conditions, and could be considered as an option for treating acute pain in sickle cell disease (SCD). The objective of this study was to determine the extent of use of cannabis in the community for pain and other symptom relief, and its side effects during self-administration in patients with SCD. Patients attending Central Middlesex Hospital in London were invited to complete a structured self-administered anonymous questionnaire. Eighty-six young adults with HbSS, HbSC and HbSbetathalassaemia disease (median age 30 years) participated in the study. Results showed that 31 (36%) had used cannabis in the previous 12 months to relieve symptoms associated with SCD. The main route in all but two patients was by smoking. The main reasons for use were to reduce pain in 52%, and to induce relaxation or relieve anxiety and depression in 39%. Symptoms related to sedation and mood effects were reported in 77% of patients. The majority of patients (58%) expressed their willingness to participate in studies 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.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / psychology
  • Cannabaceae*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Self Administration
  • Surveys and Questionnaires