Do you have a favorite memory with your grandparents? Maybe you spent summers at their cottage and recall the sweet smell of home-baked chocolate chips cookies. What if we told you that those cookies could be infused with cannabis? Would you be surprised to learn that cannabis for seniors is on the rise?
That’s right, studies show that more and more seniors turn to cannabis every year for a variety of reasons, which we’ll talk more about in this article. Once deemed a young person’s game, cannabis for seniors is on the rise. Keep reading to find out the benefits (and possible health risks) for this age group.
Cannabis Use Among Seniors
We’ve all heard the “back in my day…” spiel. “Back in my day, we didn’t have high-speed internet.” “Back in my day, we stood in line all day for a loaf of bread.” “Back in my day, cigarettes made you look cool.” And speaking of smoking, there’s a chance grandma and grandma tried cannabis in their youthful years for the first time.
So, why light up again decades later? According to a study published by CNN, “The numbers of American seniors over age 65 who now smoke marijuana or use edibles increased two-fold between 2015 and 2018.”
Benefits Of Cannabis For Seniors
Based on studies and surveys from the last five years, insomnia, and sleep-related issues appear to attract seniors to cannabis. For Carol Collin, a cannabis gummy right before bed sends her off to dreamland like a baby. “I am an absolute chronic insomniac. I have been ever since I was a little tiny child—it just drives me crazy,” she told the media. “I take this little cube and it just makes me drowsy so I can sleep and doesn’t leave me groggy in the morning.”
Additionally, cannabis can help seniors overcome physical pain and discomfort. “Back in my day, I ran track and field with a record-breaking time.” These days, however, grandma moves a little slower. Collin uses a topical cream loaded with both THC and CBD to relieve muscle tension, noting that she’s lucky to live in California where she has easy access to these types of products.
A Closer Look At Demographics
Interestingly enough, Dr. Benjamin Han, an assistant professor of geriatric medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, found that a specific “type” of senior gravitates towards cannabis the most. Then we have Joseph Palamar, an associate professor of population health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, who notes that seniors who have no interest in other drugs look to cannabis for health benefits.
Among the senior age group, “use was highest among women, racial or ethnic minorities, and seniors who were married, college-educated, had mental health issues and had incomes of $20,000 to $49,000 and $75,000 or higher.” Palamar noticed that cannabis use among seniors continues to climb without any dips year after year. There is no up-and-down pattern.
Is Cannabis Safe For Seniors?
Truthfully, there isn’t a hobby or activity on Earth without at least one possible downside. People who love to work out may suffer an injury, those who love to cook may burn or cut themselves…you see where we’re going with this. The same goes for cannabis use for all age groups—not just seniors.
What Are The Possible Health Risks?
According to Han, seniors may be misinformed of the health benefits of cannabis. For example, studies show that seniors with diabetes tried cannabis for relief more so than any other medical condition. “I’m not sure why older people with diabetes are increasingly using cannabis.” Normally, cannabis wouldn’t be considered or prescribed to patients with diabetes.
Another worrisome component pertains to alcohol. Findings show that cannabis is more popular with seniors to consume alcohol on a regular basis than those who do not drink. “As a geriatrician, I worry about any kind of prescribed medicine or substance use — anything that has any kind of psychoactive effects,” Han said. “I worry about things like dizziness, falls. I worry about how it may interact with certain medical conditions.” In short, do not mix alcohol and cannabis no matter your age or medical background.
Lastly, Han points out that cannabis has only gotten stronger throughout the years. This includes a higher potency and THC percentage. If grandma and grandpa smoked back in the day, you may need to alert them that it’s not the same experience these days. Some strains have a THC profile of 30% or higher.
Would Your Grandparents Try Cannabis?
From Han and Palamar’s research, we can conclude that cannabis for seniors looks promising and beneficial—as long as they consume for the right medical reasons (not diabetes). We also need to make sure that our grandparents find an appropriate strain with low-to-moderate THC levels. It’s up to you—their family member—to educate them on the effects of THC and why it’s crucial not to mix with alcohol.