More Seniors Using Cannabis, Substituting It For Prescription Painkillers

CALIFORNIA:  Adults age 50 and older are far more likely to consume cannabis today than they were decades ago, according to population use data published in the journal Addiction.

Investigators with the Alcohol Research Group assessed trends in marijuana use between the years 1984 and 2015. Authors reported that, compared with older Americans 30 years ago, older respondents today are some 20 times more likely to acknowledge using cannabis.

“We found that rates of use among older groups increased quite significantly since the 1980s, especially for men in their fifties and sixties,” the study’s lead author stated in a press release. Their finding is consistent with those of other studies reporting upticks in cannabis use by seniors.

By contrast, respondents between the ages of 18 to 49 reported using cannabis at rates that are similar to those in the 1980s.

Separate data presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society finds that as many as 65 percent of older adults reduce their use of prescription painkillers after initiating medical cannabis therapy – a finding that is consistent with those of numerous other studies assessing marijuana substitution patterns in various patient populations.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

Study: Cannabis Is Safe And Effective For Elderly Patients

ISRAEL: Cannabis therapy is safe and effective among elderly patients diagnosed with chronic pain, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Hebrew University and the Ben Gurion University of Negrev in Israel assessed the use of therapeutic cannabis over a period of six months in a cohort of 1,186 patients above 65 years of age. The majority of patients enrolled in the trial suffered from pain or cancer. Under an Israeli federal program, over 32,000 citizens are licensed to utilize cannabis therapy.

“After six months of treatment, 93.7 percent of the respondents reported improvement in their condition, and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4,” researchers reported. The majority of respondents also reported “a significant improvement in [their] overall quality of life.”

Furthermore, over 18 percent of the study’s participants “stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose” – a result that led investigators to conclude, “Cannabis can decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids.” Numerous prior studies, such as those compiled here, similarly show that pain patients typically mitigate or eliminate their opioid use during cannabis therapy.

The adverse effects most commonly reported by participants were dizziness and dry-mouth.

Authors concluded: “The older population is a large and growing part of medical cannabis users. Our study finds that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in this population.”


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Epidemiological characteristics, safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in the elderly,” appears in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.

Study: Cannabis Use By Seniors On The Rise

NEW YORK:  Self-reported marijuana use by those age 50 and older is increasing, according to demographic data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

Researchers at New York University’s School of Medicine and at Columbia University evaluated marijuana use patterns for those over 50 years of age for the years 2006 to 2013.  Investigators reported that the prevalence of past-year cannabis use rose approximately 60 percent for those age 50 to 64, and increased 250 percent for those over 65 years of age. Overall, use rates increased 71 percent (from 2.8 percent in 2006 to 4.8 percent in 2013) for all of the respondents.

Authors reported that marijuana use was significantly higher among older males than among females (6.8 percent to 3 percent). Those respondents who reported suffering from two or more chronic medical conditions were more likely to use cannabis than those who did not.

“We found a significant increase in the prevalence of past-year cannabis use in the US among older adults from 2006/2007 through 2012/2013, with large relative increases particularly among those ages 65 and older,” they concluded. “This increase in cannabis use is not unanticipated given the high rates of substance use among the Baby Boomer generation. … Given that the majority of Baby Boomers have still not yet reached the age 65, we will likely continue to see the trends continue into the next decade.”

 

Seniors Are Seeking Out States Where Marijuana is Legal

CALIFORNIA:  When choosing retirement locales, a few factors pop to mind: climate, amenities, proximity to grandchildren, access to quality healthcare.

Chris Cooper had something else to consider – marijuana laws.

The investment adviser from Toledo had long struggled with back pain due to a fractured vertebra and crushed disc from a fall. He hated powerful prescription drugs like Vicodin, but one thing did help ease the pain and spasms: marijuana.

So when Cooper, 57, was looking for a place to retire, he ended up in San Diego, since California allows medical marijuana. A growing number of retirees are also factoring in the legalization of pot when choosing where to spend their golden years.