Study Reveals How Older People Use And Obtain Marijuana In Colorado

Study Reveals How Older People Use And Obtain Marijuana In Colorado

Legalization has attracted a growing number of older Americans to use marijuana, but little is known about how exactly this demographic is approaching cannabis in the 21st century.

A new study published this month in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society attempts to fill in that knowledge gap, surveying Colorado residents over 65 to learn how older generations use and obtain cannabis in a fully legal state.

About 350 people completed the surveys, and of those, 32 percent reported using marijuana at least once in their lifetime. Sixteen percent of respondents were considered “current” consumers because they reported using marijuana in the years since Colorado legalized for adult-use in 2012. Those individuals were asked a series of follow up questions about things like frequency of use and how they obtained cannabis.

The responses painted an interesting picture about how full legalization seems to ease access to cannabis for medical use.

Most respondents said that marijuana was a helpful treatment option for anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, pain and appetite stimulation, among other ailments. But while 26 percent said they had a recommendation for medical cannabis, 67 percent “obtained marijuana recreationally.”

“Although some respondents had a prescription for marijuana, most purchased it without a prescription for a variety of medical conditions common to primary care (pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia), the study authors wrote. “Thus, in states with recreationally available marijuana, older adults may be using marijuana in addition to their prescribed regimens, so it is important to inquire about marijuana use regardless of age.”

Other takeaways from the study: older Americans seem to gravitate toward edibles (42 percent), compared to smoking cannabis (29 percent). Lotions and oils were also favorites among respondents.

In terms of medical uses, the “most common symptom targeted was pain (64 percent), followed by sleep (38 percent), anxiety (24 percent), depression (22 percent), and appetite stimulation (18 percent).” And almost half of current marijuana consumers included in the survey said cannabis “targeted multiple symptoms.”

“This is a population that, in many cases, had firsthand experience with cannabis during their young adulthood, and have now returned to cannabis in older age,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a press release. “Seniors are turning to cannabis as a potential option to provide symptomatic relief while potentially avoiding the dramatic side-effects associated with other medications and improving their quality of life.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (R) made a similar observation in an April interview.

“We haven’t seen a big spike in consumption,” Hickenlooper told Rolling Stone. “The only increase in consumption is among senior citizens, which we think is either Baby Boomers coming home to roost or arthritis and the aches and pains of growing older—people finding that marijuana is better pain solution than opioids or other things.”

Of course, the study’s limitations have to be taken into consideration. The sample size is relatively small and, as the study authors acknowledge, there could be response bias because the surveys were completed on a voluntary basis.

“As recreational marijuana becomes more available in the United States, it will be increasingly important to understand the specific dose and route of marijuana used, as well as short- and long-term health effects,” the study concluded.

“Thus, steps toward further understanding should include directed focus groups of active marijuana users and randomized clinic trials comparing marijuana with usual care for the most commonly targeted symptoms and conditions.”

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Study Reveals How Older People Use And Obtain Marijuana In Colorado

Cannabis to Streamline Relief and Medical Treatments for Senior Citizens

Cannabis to Streamline Relief and Medical Treatments for Senior Citizens

Cannabis treatments are designed for all ages, from children (mostly low-THC derivatives) to senior citizens. According to statistics from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, the latter group is currently getting more familiar and becoming more receptive to medicinal cannabis treatments.

In Washington state, cannabis usage in individuals over the age of 65 went up from 0.9 percent to 2.4 percent between 2011 and 2014.

The rise of extremely potent prescription opioids is mostly to blame for the development of this trend. Some elderly patients are concerned about the devastating effects of harmful opiates on the liver, digestive system and the mind (promoting depression and laziness).

cannabis-medical-treatments-for-senior-citizens

Senior citizens have several choices to choose from when using cannabis to treat various medical conditions. For arthritis, which affects more than 50 million adults in the US, such individuals can utilize topicals and oils for direct, immediate relief. In most cases, this form of treatment has very limited cerebral effects on the patient. Cannabis with high THC content is suitable for senior citizens who are dealing with chronic pain and disruptive sleeping habits.

“A lot of these people think it’s just smoking a joint, but when they hear that there are non-smokable options, and more discreet, healthier, more convenient options, that’s something that really appeals to them,” explained Aron Swan, general manager of Silver State Relief in Sparks, Nevada.

Nowadays, with a plethora of strains available on the market, individuals can find options that closely matches their tolerance, personality and personal preference. According to Jacob Falconer, a professional budtender, senior citizens who are into medical cannabis prefer high CBD strains. Such variants are effective in addressing cognitive function, anxiety and chronic pain, without the “couch-locking” effects commonly associated with high THC strains.

cannabis-medical-treatments-for-senior-citizens

Like new technology, adoption of medical cannabis in elderly groups is greatly hindered by lack of access and education. Most senior citizens have a reserved, conservative stance on cannabis, due to the prohibition era. As a result, they need to be updated about new laws and regulations surrounding cannabis products. This process is difficult for older demographics who are in nursing homes and aren’t comfortable with using modern devices, like mobile phones and smart TVs.

“The number one thing for seniors is being able to educate them,” said 55-year-old California resident Bob Leber. “There’s a huge educational process at the beginning, and this lowers their anxiety and their apprehension.”

To cater to the elderly, some medical dispensaries are changing the way they do business. In California, popular cannabis dispensaries, like Harborside Health Center establishments in Oakland and San Jose, offer discounts to their senior customers.

Other dispensaries are making their shops welcoming to elderly groups by adding amenities and designs that are more attractive to such individuals. For example, a clean, quiet facility helps make some older customers feel they’re in a medical clinic, as opposed to a recreational head shop filled with loud music and hazy decorations. Some medical cannabis establishments go even further by installing handicap spaces in parking lots, with attendants ready to assist patients as they arrive at the dispensary.

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