Daily Management Review

Ten Fold Rise In Medical Marijuana Use Among Older Americans


Ten Fold Rise In Medical Marijuana Use Among Older Americans
A study from the University of Colorado has shown that over a period of a decade in the United States, there has been a tenfold increase in the use of marijuana among seniors as a part of medical treatment for a range of ailments such as pain, anxiety and depression.
Over the past year, cannabis was used by 3.7 per cent of U.S. adults aged 65 years or older, data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health showed, which is an increase of ten times compared to the same number at 0.3 per cent in 2007. Compared to 1.9 per cent in the use of marijuana within the past year among adults ages 60 to 64 in 2007, this number was found to be at 9.4 per cent in 2017.
Dr. Hillary Lum, assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and co-author of a study published last month in the journal Drugs and Aging said that it is expected that there would be rise in the number of older Americans using the drug because of the legalization of its use for medical and recreational purposes by more states in the US.
Colorado and 10 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes while 33 states of the US have legalized its use for medicinal purposes. However according to Lum, finding medical marijuana has not been easy for many older Americans.
The study which was conducted in 2017, was based on a survey of 136 people who were 60 years of older at Colorado senior centers, health clinics and cannabis dispensaries. The issue of accessing medical cannabis was expressed by many study participants of the study who also added their experience of the doctors that they went to being having limited exposure and education about the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and treating ailments. Some of the respondents of the study however did not approach their doctors seeking marijuana because of the taboo associated with it.
The study quoted many of the respondents saying that more should be learned by doctors about medical marijuana such as the adequate dosage, the method of usage and potential benefits or risks that could be faced by older adults who use cannabis. Some told the researchers their primary care doctors were either unable or unwilling to approve a medical marijuana card, which would allow them to purchase the drug at a medical dispensary.
“I think they should be a lot more open to learning about it and discussing it with their patients,” one study participant said according to the study. “Because at this point I have told my primary care I was using [marijuana] on my shoulder. And that was the end of the conversation. He didn’t want to know why, he didn’t want to know about effects, didn’t want to know about side effects, didn’t want to know anything.”
“I feel doctors may not want to worsen stigma, but instead want to have really trust-based decisions and discussions, and that takes time and training,” Lum said.