Patients with sickle cell disease have crescent shaped blood cells, compared to disc shaped blood cells in people who don’t suffer from sickle cell disease. These cells block blood flow, which causes pain, fatigue, and organ damage. I’ve heard people that suffer from sickle cell disease describe the pain as being like nails poking their entire body.
Doctors usually prescribe opiate based pain killers like morphine for sickle cell disease. Opiate prescriptions have a lot of side effects including respiratory issues, damage to organs, and addiction to name a few. Compare that to medical marijuana, which has far less harmful side effects, especially if consumed in food or vapor form. Patients should have the option to choose medical marijuana if they want to. From Minnesota Daily:
School of Dentistry professor and pain expert Donald Simone, who is also working on the research project, said opiates sometimes have “problematic” side effects, such as respiratory depression. And Gupta said patients sometimes receive incorrect dosages of the drugs because their exact amount of pain is unknown.
Medical marijuana is promising for sickle cell patients because it has a pain-relieving effect without as many severe side effects as morphine, Simone said.
Right now researchers in California are teaming up with researchers at the University of Minnesota to find out how medical marijuana can help those suffering from sickle cell disease. Right now, sickle cell patients can get safe access to medical marijuana if they are in California. However, patients in Minnesota will have to wait until the condition is added to the list of approvable conditions in Minnesota, which could take awhile.