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What Seniors Should Consider Before Using Medical Marijuana

April 12, 2023

Baby boomers – the generation that started recreational pot use – are now seniors using medical marijuana to treat a variety of ailments.

According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, the number of marijuana users over 65 increased by more than 100% from 2015 to  2019. The numbers will likely increase since, as of 2023, 37 states have legalized some form of medical marijuana.

“More and more medical marijuana pharmacies are opening up. They have pharmacists who are experts in formulating the right type of product, with the right percentage of ingredients, for a given condition,” says Taimur Habib, MD, an internist and geriatrician with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group in Fairfield.

Thinking about giving medical marijuana a go? Here’s what seniors are using medical marijuana to treat and some things to think about before you start.

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Weighing your options

Seniors and older adults, Dr. Habib says, are using marijuana for cancer, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, arthritis, seizures and more.

Medical marijuana is said to:

  • Treat pain
  • Ease nausea and vomiting
  • Reduce muscle spasms
  • Help with sleep disorders
  • Decrease anxiety and depression

The bonus? Marijuana often comes with a lower price tag than other medications, but on the flip side, insurance won’t cover it.

Reasons to avoid marijuana

The cons of using are that marijuana may:

  • Increase heart rate and blood pressure
  • Decrease cognitive function
  • Lead to a higher risk of falls and injuries
  • Interfere with everyday living- may cause relationship problems, lower life achievements, reduce life satisfaction and cause disoriented thoughts.
  • Result in behavior changes
  • Be taken inaccurately

How to consume medical marijuana

Depending on your needs, financial situation and physical disabilities, you may like one method over another.

  • Smoke it: Provides instant relief
  • Consume it: Infuse into your food
  • Vaporize it: Instant relief similar to smoking
  • Rub droplets on your skin: Absorbs into your skin and does not produce a high
  • Take a pill: Attractive option for those uninterested in smoking less attractive for those in need of instant gratification.

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Should you try it? Speak with an expert

If you’re interested in trying medical marijuana, Dr. Habib suggests talking with your provider and starting with the lowest possible dose first.

“It’s best to see a physician who has the knowledge and is comfortable prescribing medical marijuana. Not all doctors are!” he says.