Anti-Aging & Medical Cannabis Blog

Many are interested in Maryland or Delaware medical marijuana for sickle cell disease (SCD), but they are not sure about the process. It is completely understandable that there would be such an interest in medical cannabis since Sickle Cell Disease affects around 100,000 people in the United States alone. While there have been great strides made to help those with sickle cell disease have longer and better lives there is still a lot of work to be done to help those suffering from this disease. Sickle cell disease causes acute and chronic pain that many patients are looking for relief from. In this article we will explore what sickle cell anemia is and how Maryland or Delaware medical marijuana may help.

If you would like to know if medical marijuana (MMJ) is right for you, schedule a consultation with one of our Delaware or Maryland Medical Marijuana Doctors

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.

Different Types of Sickle Cell Disease

Many assume that sickle cell disease only takes one form and that every person suffering from sickle cell disease in Maryland or Delaware is dealing with the exact same disease. In fact, sickle cell disease is like cancer or many other ailments in that it can come in several different types. Let us look at the different forms that exist that patients would be looking for Maryland or Delaware medical marijuana for sickle cell disease.

Following are the most common types of SCD:


People who have this form of SCD inherit two sickle cell genes (“S”), one from each parent. This is commonly called sickle cell anemia and is usually the most severe form of the disease.


People who have this form of SCD inherit a sickle cell gene (“S”) from one parent and from the other parent a gene for an abnormal hemoglobin called “C”. Hemoglobin is a protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. This is usually a milder form of SCD.

HbS beta thalassemia

People who have this form of SCD inherit one sickle cell gene (“S”) from one parent and one gene for beta thalassemia, another type of anemia, from the other parent. There are two types of beta thalassemia: “0” and “+”. Those with HbS beta 0-thalassemia usually have a severe form of SCD. People with HbS beta +-thalassemia tend to have a milder form of SCD.

There also are a few rare types of SCD:

HbSD, HbSE, and HbSO

People who have these forms of SCD inherit one sickle cell gene (“S”) and one gene from an abnormal type of hemoglobin (“D”, “E”, or “O”). Hemoglobin is a protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. The severity of these rarer types of SCD varies.

Sickle Cell Disease Treatment

People that suffer from sickle cell disease are typically in acute or chronic pain. People with SCD have abnormal red blood cells that prevent blood from reaching the body’s tissues and organs, causing crippling pain, infection, and in some cases, stroke and other serious health problems. Opioids are the standard curse of treatment for most with sickle cell disease to deal with their chronic pain.

As you know, opioids can be extremely effective at pain control, but they aren’t without their own negative effects. The primary concern of anyone taking opioids particularly for a chronic condition is the ability of opioids to be habit forming. Studies have recently shown that medical marijuana may be the best pain controlling alternative to opioids. Let’s take a look at what the evidence says.

Maryland and Delaware Medical Marijuana: An Alternative to Opioids

A study published in the journal, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research sought to uncover how medical marijuana benefits those living with sickle cell disease. Called “Marijuana Use in Adults Living with Sickle Cell Disease,” the study surveyed 130 adults diagnosed with SCD, of which 42 percent had used marijuana in the 2 years prior to the study. The study found that 79 percent of those patients reported a reduction in the use of prescribed medications after using marijuana for pain. Many seek marijuana as an alternative to opioids or because other kinds of medications do not relieve their pain. 

There was another study published in May of 2019 that looked at 15 adults dealing with sickle cell disease. The goal was to investigate concerns about the restrictions on opioid prescriptions in the United States and how they affect pain management regimens for those living with SCD. It found that opioids are almost exclusively prescribed to patients with SCD and that, despite the increased difficulty to obtain opioid prescriptions; doctors do not provide access to non-opioid medicines or alternative therapies.

So the evidence indicates that Maryland and Delaware medical marijuana may be a good alternative to helping those with sickle cell disease control pain. There are also other benefits that medical marijuana may offer someone suffering from sickle cell disease.

Sickle Cell Disease Depression and Anxiety

One thing that is often associated with any condition that causes chronic or acute pain is anxiety and depression. It’s understandable how you can feel anxious about the onset of symptoms or depressed about being in chronic pain. While patients with SCD that use medical marijuana do so mostly for pain and inflammation, they also reported it lessened symptoms of depression and anxiety without the grogginess and severe constipation brought on by opioids.

One study found that marijuana use correlated with “significantly reduced ratings of depression, anxiety, and stress.” It also found that marijuana high in CBD was best for reducing symptoms of depression. This has been studied before, and a possible mechanism has previously been found. CBD may act on serotonin receptors in the brain, which are thought to have huge importance regarding depression. Specifically, some studies have also had promising results, including a better and enhanced mood.

Is medical marijuana right for me?

Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. A Delaware or Maryland Marijuana Doctor can determine if you qualify during your certification consultation at Green Relief Health.


Ryan Nawrocki