Rene Yeoman, a Florida native and wife to Marvin Yeoman, said that she “never, never, ever even thought about marijuana when I was growing up — never in college, as a young adult or as a middle-aged adult”. “It was just not even something that was on my radar,” Rene said. However, when both underwent major surgeries, they had decided to experiment with cannabis on their daughter’s suggestion to treat their chronic pain and aid in their recovery. To their surprise, they ended up enjoying the effects of cannabis. Rene Yeoman says that the effects from edibles helped her get through the night without relying on other medications and painkillers. Fortunately, her sentiments are shared by other members of the senior community.
A study conducted by the University of California & San Diego School of Medicine reported that 15% of 568 surveyed individuals had used cannabis in the last 3 years. Of that 15%, 61% of the individuals were over 60 years of age. “The findings demonstrate the need for the clinical workforce to become aware of cannabis use by seniors and to gain awareness of both the benefits and risks of cannabis use in patient populations”, said Alison Moore, MD
COVID-19 pandemic has prompted use among older adults and seniors
There are certainly many variables to consider when determining what is behind this trend. The decrease in stigma associated with cannabis, decriminalization and legalization are a strong foundation. Reactivity from the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted use among older adults and seniors simply “out of boredom”. On a different tangent, there has been significant activity and backlash from the public on the use of opioids, their addictiveness and risk of overdose. Perhaps older adults are searching for a different way forward.
In the United States, the portion of adults 65 or older who reported recent weed use increased by 18%, according to the 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health.
Senior Canadians are the fastest growing group of weed users
In Canada, older Canadians are the fastest growing group of weed users, according to a recent report by Statistics Canada. More than 25% of first-time users are Canadians aged 65 or older with 10 times more seniors smoking weed now than in 2012.
The multi-billion-dollar legal cannabis industry that has emerged over the last 10 years seems to be keeping seniors in their marketing plans, providing specific discounts, appreciation days and free delivery.
Despite the increase in seniors using cannabis for medicinal purposes, more research is needed on the impacts of marijuana on older adults and the elderly. Due to its psychoactive components, cannabis could be very concerning for seniors suffering from confusion, dementia, cardiac health conditions etc. There is a common denominator amongst physicians online, that weed is being considered and prescribed as a viable alternative to conventional pharmaceuticals that patients dislike or “are not doing well with”. Whatever your feelings are, perhaps lighting up later in life could have an upside over taking painkillers.