Article by Angela Stelmakowich, Growth Op
It’s likely no surprise that older people who consume cannabis use it for pain, sleep and anxiety, but perhaps more eyebrow-raising is that a solid majority of seniors who count themselves as consumers now started after age 60.
So notes a new study by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, which was published online this week in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
In all, 568 patients aged 65 and older at the Medicine for Seniors Clinic at U.C. San Diego Health were polled anonymously over 10 weeks.
Fifteen per cent of participants had used cannabis within the past three years, notes the study abstract. Fifty-three per cent said they use weed regularly on a daily or weekly basis, and 46 per cent reported using CBD-only products.
Almost eight in 10 of the 60-plus set, 78 per cent, reported using cannabis for medical purposes only, including as a means to treat pain, sleep disturbances and psychiatric conditions, according to U.C. San Diego.
Weed was particularly welcome for addressing insomnia and pain. Specifically, 73 per cent of subjects cited its use for pain/arthritis, 29 per cent for sleep disturbance, 24 per cent for anxiety and 17 per cent for depression. “Just over three‐quarters reported cannabis [to be] ‘somewhat’ or ‘extremely’ helpful in managing one of these conditions, with few adverse effects,” the abstract notes.
But not all consumers were long-time marijuana users. Sixty-one per cent of the patients who reported using cannabis had initiated use after age 60.
These first-time users, aged 61 and older, “were a unique group compared to those who used cannabis in the past. New users were more likely to use cannabis for medical reasons than for recreation,” notes the statement.
Unlike recreational use, smoking was not the preferred mode of consumption among new users. This group favoured using weed topically as a lotion as opposed to smoking a joint or ingesting edibles, researchers add.
“Future studies are imperative to better understanding the efficacy and safety of different formulations of cannabis in treating common conditions in older adults, both to maximize benefit and minimize harm,” they point out.
Encouragingly, weed consumers now seem more willing to tell their doctors about their cannabis use, perhaps reflecting that it “is no longer as stigmatized as it was previously,” the university notes. In all, 41 per cent of respondents said that their healthcare providers knew they used cannabis.