Cannabis use by senior citizens

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More and more senior citizens report using cannabis. Medical reasons are often in the foreground.

While about 2.4% of seniors in the U.S. used cannabis in 2015, that number rose sharply in just a few years. In 2018, 4.2% of respondents already reported using cannabis. [1] This increase corresponds to a trend that has been observed for several years. [2]

Why do senior citizens want cannabis?

There are several reasons why older people ingest cannabis. One of them is the increasing acceptance in society. More and more people are of the opinion that the medical benefits of cannabis should at least be better investigated, while concerns are currently rather in retreat. [3] This leads to the fact that seniors can consume cannabis with a clear conscience, sometimes even as a pure stimulant.

Furthermore, something is also happening at the political level: This summer, for example, a change in the law took effect in Switzerland that makes cannabis more easily accessible as a medicine.

Medical use of cannabis

Finally, the focus is also on medical use: many older users state that they use cannabis for medical purposes. Since problems such as chronic pain are more common in old age, it stands to reason that many seniors – hoping to endure as few unpleasant side effects as possible – would be interested in cannabis medicine.[4]

In addition to social and political change, scientific findings are also leading to an increase in the medical use of cannabis. For example, the Journal of Clinical Medicine published a study in 2019 that demonstrated high efficacy of cannabis with low risks.
There are also studies from Europe, such as this 2018 study, which concluded that the use of medical cannabis products in seniors* was safe and effective.

Nevertheless, as in many other areas, more meaningful studies are needed for seniors and medical applications. Until then, it is limited for many physicians* and dispensary staff to make a recommendation for medical cannabis products.