Survey Finds Seniors Are Turning to Marijuana For Pain Management

About 45% of senior citizens in a recent Colorado survey reported they had used marijuana in the past year. What’s more, they reported that cannabis had a positive impact on their quality of life.

Those who had used marijuana in the past year reported improvement to their overall health, quality of life and daily functioning. They also reported that marijuana used for pain management yielded positive results.

The study, published on the National Institutes of Health website, was led by researchers from the University of Colorado, University of Iowa and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Pain Management Survey

Researchers wanted to assess how many seniors in Colorado were using marijuana. They also sought information on how they were using it, such as marijuana used for pain management or for relieving feelings of anxiety.

The study looked at recreational and medical marijuana use among older people in Colorado using a geographically sampled survey. The survey was offered both online and in-person. Researchers were looking for those over 60 years of age. They ended up with an average age of 72.5. Of those surveyed, 65% were women.

Of the 274 respondents, 45% reported marijuana use in the past year. The odds of use in the last year decreased with each additional year of age. Also, the odds of marijuana use were higher among those who had used opioids in the past year.

How Seniors Use Marijuana

Of those who said they used marijuana in the past year, 54% said they used cannabis both medically and recreationally.

Many of those said they use marijuana for pain management. But the list of issues the seniors hoped to treat with marijuana also included psychological issues. The conditions they listed include:

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic back pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Mirrors Past Studies on Marijuana

The findings of the Colorado survey mirrored those of past studies and surveys. For example, a survey published in late 2018 found that more seniors were using marijuana than in past years. Those seniors also reported that they had positive results in the use of marijuana for pain relief, depression and to stimulate appetite.

That survey also found more than half of those who said they used marijuana was 75 years old and older. One quarter were 85 or older. The study found that not only did seniors use marijuana for “several common geriatric conditions,” but that they also reported “few side effects.”

Commenting on that 2018 study, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “This is a population that, in many cases, had firsthand experience with cannabis during their young adulthood, and have now returned to cannabis in older age.”

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