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Posted on: June 10, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Despite cannabis being now being legal for recreational use in 11 U.S states [1] (that number is likely to grow), you still have to get a license for medical marijuana from a doctor. Marijuana has both medical and recreational uses. Its active compounds are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).

Cannabis can be used medicinally for pain relief and reduction, stimulation of appetite (mostly in HIV patients), treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, inflammation, insomnia, mental disorders, and seizures [2].

Elderly people believe it helps them positively

A 2017 study conducted in Colorado suggests that elderly people above the age of 60 desire to use cannabis but have limited access to the medication [3]. At the end of the study which involved 136 senior citizens, a majority of the cannabis-using participants testified to the positive results they had achieved with the use of cannabis. They also admitted a desire to discuss this need for cannabis more openly and freely with their health care providers. Many feel that doctors are still attaching a stigma to marijuana and don’t seem to accept positive updates from recent research. In some cases, elderly people are forced to seek prescriptions elsewhere. This means seeking marijuana on the black market, which may not be medically safe for their use.

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It was also discovered that the demand for marijuana is higher among senior citizens than in any other age groups, but they are highly reluctant to discuss this need with their doctors.

Elderly people use it to treat the discomforts that come with old age such as joint aches, muscle pain, and the discomforts that come with dementia and other medical conditions associated with old age.

“Older Americans are using cannabis for a lot of different reasons,” said Hillary Lum, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and coauthor of the study. “Some use it to manage pain while others use it for depression or anxiety.”

Legalization isn’t normalization

It’s no secret that marijuana has been stigmatized in the past, Refer Madness anyone? However, even with a changing outlook and the mountains of research, some of that stigma still remains. More people believe that if their health care providers would discuss the use of the drug more openly with them, they’d be able to reach a neutral ground and to discuss the pro’s and con’s, just like any other prescription medication.

“I think [doctors can] be a lot more open to learning about it and discussing it with their patients,” one of the participants said. “Because at this point I have told my primary care I was using it on my shoulder. And that was the end of the conversation. He didn’t want to know why, he didn’t want to know about effects, didn’t want to know about side effects, and didn’t want to know anything.”

Several other participants attested to the fact that getting the license to purchase medical marijuana from their doctors had proven to be Herculean. The doctors would outrightly refuse to certify them, and they’d usually be forced to go against the law to get the marijuana they need.

While marijuana may have several positive effects on baby boomers, the negative effects need to be taken into consideration as well. It’s not all glittery gold. The use of marijuana has been linked to the mental health problems, hallucinations, disorientation, respiratory problems, metabolic syndrome, drug-drug interaction, all these occurring especially when the THC concentration is higher than 0.3 [4]. While these effects do not happen with everyone, they’re still worth noting. Cannabis research has come a long way, disproving many myths, highlighting medical benefits, but also showing us that it’s not without its faults.

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Black market marijuana vendors can sell anything to people and they’ll have no idea how unsafe their purchases are. Doctors are being implored to update themselves on the latest research about the health benefits of marijuana, especially for Baby Boomers. It would be safer for all the cannabis users if they acquired regulated cannabis from trusted outlets rather than black markets.

“From a physician’s standpoint this study shows the need to talk to patients in a non-judgmental way about cannabis,” said Professor Lum. “Doctors should also educate themselves about the risks and benefits of cannabis and be able to communicate that effectively to patients.”

Problems with cultivation

Speaking to Insider, Barbara Buck, a realtor in her fifties said she’d always been reluctant to admit her use of cannabis for menopausal symptoms and insomnia [5]. She’d been growing the plants in her former home, and she’s advised several other elderly people to take up the drug for pain and anxiety relief.

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The main reason I grew Cannabis [is] to help people like it has always helped me,” she said. “The only reason I stopped was due to moving to a house that wasn’t as suitable for growing. My goal is to move to the country in a couple of years and start again!”

Barbara thinks cannabis should be legalized all over the world, but she’s concerned about the strict laws regulating growing the plant in many states.

“I believe it will go federally legal very soon in the US in part due to the last Farm Bill that was passed,” she said. “Now that the government sees how much money there is to be made they will do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie.”

In the end, there needs to open dialogue between medical professionals and the public. This is the only way to disseminate knowledge in a proper way. Its time to give up the grudge on pot because it’s here to stay.  So why not do this the best we can?

  1. Lafaye, Genevieve. Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and health. PMC.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741114/. 09-17
  2. Harding, Anne. Medical Marijuana. Web MD. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/medical-marijuana-uses. 04-11-13
  3. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Cannabis use among older adults rising rapidly. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190530122019.htm. 30-05-19
  4. Lloyd et al. Marijuana Use Among Adults 50 Years or Older in the 21st Century. PMC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024284/. 21-06-18
  5. Dodgson, Lindsay. The number of people over age 65 using marijuana is increasing faster than any other age group, but they think doctors need to catch up. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/many-older-people-over-65-use-marijuana-doctors-barriers-2019-5?IR=T. 01-06-19
  6. Admin. The 2018 Farm Bill: What This Means for Hemp. Analytical Cannabis. https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/the-2018-farm-bill-what-this-means-for-hemp-311394. 29-12-18

 

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