Rene Yeoman, a resident of Florida and wife to Marvin Yeoman, confessed that cannabis “was never on my radar during my youth, college years, or even mid-life”. However, after both underwent serious surgeries, their daughter suggested they try cannabis for their persistent pain and to support recovery. Unexpectedly, they found the effects of cannabis agreeable. Rene shared that edibles proved beneficial in helping her get through the night without resorting to other medications and painkillers. Her sentiments resonate with several others in the senior community.
A study by the University of California & San Diego School of Medicine revealed that out of 568 respondents, 15% had used cannabis in the past 3 years. Surprisingly, 61% of this group were aged 60 or above. “The results highlight the necessity for the clinical workforce to recognize and understand both the benefits and potential risks of cannabis use among seniors,” stated Alison Moore, MD
The COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated cannabis use among seniors
Several factors contribute to this emerging trend. The diminishing stigma around cannabis, its decriminalization and legalization play a significant role. The COVID-19 pandemic has further stimulated use among seniors and older adults, driven primarily by “boredom”. Simultaneously, the public outcry against the addictive nature and overdose risks associated with opioids may have led older adults to explore alternative solutions.
In the US, the proportion of adults aged 65 or older who reported recent cannabis use saw an increase of 18%, as per the 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health.
Senior Canadians represent the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis users
In Canada, the statistics mirror a similar trend. A report by Statistics Canada indicates that the older Canadians represent the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis users. Over 25% of first-time users are Canadians aged 65 or older, with ten times more seniors using cannabis now than in 2012.
The burgeoning legal cannabis industry, valued in the billions, seems to be factoring seniors into their marketing strategies, offering targeted discounts, special appreciation days, and free delivery.
While the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes among seniors is growing, further research is required to fully understand its impacts on the elderly. Given its psychoactive components, cannabis could pose significant risks for seniors with confusion, dementia, and heart conditions. However, online medical consensus shows a trend towards considering and prescribing cannabis as a potential alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals that may not be effective or may be disliked by patients. Regardless of personal views, it’s worth considering that using cannabis in later life could offer advantages over painkiller usage.