A New Study Finds Marijuana For Seniors Is On The Rise

Marijuana for seniors has become one of the biggest areas of growth in the cannabis industry. A recent study found that the number of seniors who say they use cannabis jumped 75% in just the three years between 2015 and 2018.

The study continues a trend that started in 2006 when an increase in marijuana for seniors first started to become apparent. In 2006, only about 0.5% of seniors said they use marijuana. In 2018, that number had risen to 4.2%.

Marijuana use among seniors is such that some new dispensaries focus on providing products that offer the benefits of marijuana for seniors.

Seniors Use Cannabis To Manage Pain, Nausea

The study findings mirrored what healthcare providers are seeing every day.

Study author and geriatrician Benjamin Han, an assistant professor in the division of geriatric medicine and palliative care at the New York University School of Medicine, told The Verge that “10 years ago, no one asked me about cannabis use ever. Now, it’s a very common question when I’m in the clinic. I probably get asked about once a week. There’s a lot of interest.”

The new study did not go into the specific reasons why seniors use cannabis in increasing numbers. Instead, researchers reviewed answers from 14,000 adults for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, focusing on those over the age of 65.

That survey found that use had gone up with people who have cancer and Type 2 diabetes. The assumption is that seniors with these conditions use cannabis to manage nausea and pain associated with cancer and cancer treatments, as well as nerve pain triggered by chronic diabetes.

Women, Minorities Using More Cannabis

The report found the number of women who use marijuana  jumped 93% between 2015 and 2018. Other groups that saw an increase include:

  • Racial and ethnic minorities (up 336%)
  • Married over 65 (up 100%)
  • College educated (up 114%)
  • Those treated for mental health issues in the past year (up 157%)
  • Those with incomes of $20,000 to $49,000 (up 139%)
  • Those with incomes $75,000 or higher (up 129%)
  • Diabetics (up 180%)

A 2019 survey done in Colorado found that 45% of seniors had used marijuana in the past year and that a majority said it had improved the quality of their life. That survey found seniors used marijuana for pain management.

Seniors listed arthritis, chronic back pain, anxiety and depression as some of the most frequent conditions they treat with cannabis in the Colorado study.

Han told The Verge that the new study findings should indicate to doctors that they need to do a better job discussing the potential uses of marijuana with patients. Clearly, marijuana for seniors is a trend that looks to continue for the foreseeable future.

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