The largest sector of marijuana devotees are now seniors who use the drug to soothe their aches and pains, help deal with disease, and aid mental health problems that come with aging.
A new study indicates that the number of people using marijuana is increasing faster for those aged 65 and older than for any other age group but very often, say researchers, the medical community blocks access.
“Older Americans are using cannabis for a lot of different reasons,” says Hillary Lum, an assistant professor of medicine-geriatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine who coauthored the study. “Some use it to manage pain while others use it for depression and anxiety.”
The study appeared in the journal Drugs & Aging and found that a lack of research, poor communication with physicians, and stigmas about marijuana were some of the roadblocks that prevent older people from getting the cannabis products they need.
Some of the study responders indicated that their doctors were reluctant to discuss the topic and give them the Certificate required for medical marijuana. Others said that their doctors were unable to give information on the proper use and potential side effects of cannabis.
“From a physician’s standpoint this study shows the need to talk to patients in a non-judgmental way about cannabis,” says Professor Lum. “Doctors should also educate themselves on the risks and benefits of cannabis and be able to communicate that effectively to patients.”
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of “From Fatigued to Fantastic,” says he’s not surprised that older folks are embracing cannabis.
“They have gotten wiser with age and can evaluate their needs more effectively,” he says. “Also, many of them had experience with marijuana in their youth. Unfortunately, all too many doctors are stuck in the 1950’s, relying far more on old prejudices than the newest scientific research.
“In my experience, for sleep, pain, anxiety, cancer, and even digestive problems, hemp oil (CBD) can be amazingly beneficial with minimal to no side effects. Marijuana does have cognitive effect concerns but can still be a Godsend,” said Dr. Teitelbaum.
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