Medical cannabis use rising among seniors: Study

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A new study suggests a growing number of more seniors may be using medical cannabis. PHOTO BY FILE PHOTO /Getty Images

While cannabis use has been on the rise following the legalization of marijuana in Canada, a new study has found the increase in cannabis use is more pronounced among Canadian seniors.

The study examined surveys conducted by a a commercial medical cannabis provider from 2014 to 2020, and found a gradual increase in the proportion of older medical cannabis users among those surveyed, growing from 17.6% in 2017 to 31.2% in 2019.

Researchers noted that a majority of older respondents said they use cannabis to relieve pain and prefer cannabidiol (CBD) oils over tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Among the senior participants, more than 40% of older opioid users said their opioid doses had “mildly” or “significantly” decreased.

The seniors also reported improved mood and sleep, as well as an improvement in pain of at least 50%. Though 15% to 20% also reported no improvement or worsening of these factors.

These findings highlight the need for closer examination of the effects of medical cannabis use among seniors, said co-investigator Krista L. Lanctot, a senior scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

“Cannabis effects may differ in older adults due to altered metabolism, comorbidities, and use of concurrent medications,” Lanctot told Medscape Medical News.

She also noted the seniors may be using cannabis more for psychiatric disorder.

The study findings were presented at the virtual American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry on March 18.

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