• October 27, 2020

Grab Grandma the Bong? Study says Marijuana’s Good for the Elderly

 Grab Grandma the Bong? Study says Marijuana’s Good for the Elderly

Photo via Creative Commons by Danny Kresnyak

Forget milk and cookies: The next time Little Red Riding Hood takes a trip to see her sick Granny, she should bring medical marijuana. That may be a stretch, but the use of cannabis could improve the quality of life for seniors above the age of 60. That’s science. 

New data published in the Clinical Gerontologist shows that cannabis can improve a subject’s health-related quality of life. And the results aren’t surprising, at least to advocates like Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (or NORML). 

“Many seniors likely experimented first-hand with cannabis during their youth and are now returning to it as a potential therapy to mitigate many of the health-related symptoms that come with older age, including chronic pain,” Armentano said. “Many seniors are well aware of the litany of serious adverse side-effects associated with available prescription drugs, like opioids, and they perceive medical cannabis to be a viable alternative.”

Researchers with the University of Illinois and University of Iowa conducted the study of seniors regarding the use of medical cannabis over a one-year period. The researchers say there’s a “strong positive association” between the frequency of cannabis use and improvements in pain, health-care, and overall quality of life. 

“Our regression modeling also identified a strong positive relationship between higher frequency of cannabis use and self-reported improvements to pain symptoms,” the study’s authors wrote. “The positive relationship between near-daily use and improved reports offers further evidence of the perceived value of medical cannabis as a therapeutic approach for pain management.”

The usage of cannabis among people aged 65 and older is also present in data published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. A study by the University of Massachusetts Medical School explored trends in cannabis use in a national sampling of over 171,000 seniors. Researchers reported their findings are consistent with prior surveys

“From 2016 to 2018, cannabis use increased for men in all age groups and in most women. … Among those aged 65 to 69 years, cannabis use in- creased from 4.3 percent to 8.2 percent in men and from 2.1 percent to 3.8 percent in women,” they found. 

Other studies (that you can find here, here, here, and here) have also confirmed medical marijuana use by seniors is safe, can mitigate pain and improve self-reported quality of life.

Nearly 63 percent of people born between 1946 and 1964 say that marijuana should be legal for adults, according to data by the Pew Research Center. That’s a huge increase from a decade ago.  

“This demographic shift holds important implications for marijuana legalization. Not only does it strengthen overall public support in favor of marijuana law reform, but it also galvanizes support amongst arguably the most reliable and powerful voting block,” Armentano said. “As their attitudes continue to evolve on cannabis, expect to see many politicians at the state and federal level shift their views as well.”

Anna Muckenfuss

Anna Muckenfuss

Anna Muckenfuss has reported for the Appalachian Online and is currently the Producer of The Appalachian Weekly News for AppTV. She's currently a senior journalism major at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

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