More Senior Citizens Are Turning to Cannabis for Medication
More Senior are beginning to use marijuana to replace their regular pain medication, says a report on ABC7. It’s well known that prescription medications can have uncomfortable side effects. Seniors are especially vulnerable as they often have difficulties metabolizing medications due to ageing. More and more seniors are now turning to medical cannabis rather than taking prescription medications.
Medical cannabis is used to treat a wide array of ailments. According to Wikipedia, “evidence suggests that cannabis can reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and reduce chronic pain and muscle spasms.”
For seniors, this can mean relief from chronic pain that has been plaguing them for years. “Most states now have legalized medical marijuana, and 10 of them, including California, allow anyone 21 or older to use pot recreationally. The federal government still outlaws the drug even as acceptance increases. The 2018 General Social Survey, an annual sampling of Americans’ views, found a record 61 percent back legalization, and those 65 and older are increasingly supportive”
Seniors claim pain, sleeplessness and mood as top reasons for their use and support of medical marijuana.
But substance abuse is a looming health concern when talking about seniors and marijuana use. According to NCBI, the number of Americans who have a substance abuse disorder and are over the age of 50 is expected to double from 2.8 million in 2002 to 5.7 million in 2020. Seniors who use marijuana are already at risk for injury. Marijuana use can slow reaction time, affect memory and increase the risk of falls in the ageing population. One Colorado clinic stated the average age for customers is 60. Obviously, more seniors are turning to medical marijuana rather than using prescription medications.
An issue is that little scientific research has gone into verifying the evidence that medical marijuana is sufficient to treat many of the ailments that seniors claim is beneficial. Lack of scientific evidence is a major public health concern.
Still, this is not stopping seniors. A lot of people show up to distilleries daily so they may receive their medical marijuana. There are even marijuana clubs in some retirement communities.
Cost is another major issue of concern when it comes to medical marijuana use amongst seniors. Many insurance companies do not cover medical marijuana use. Many seniors are already living at or below the poverty line. Medical marijuana can be especially costly, especially if insurance covers only part or none of its cost. Some seniors are spending hundreds of dollars a month to cover their treatment.
If proven effective hopefully more insurance companies will cover treatment. Seniors will hopefully receive proper prescriptions from more doctors who prescribe in the right dose and for the right ailments.
It is crucial more research goes into the effects of medical marijuana. Evidence needs to show its risks versus benefits. This is a must for seniors who often rely on the evidence to show if a treatment can prove either risky or beneficial. It is the hope that public health officials are recognizing this need and more and more funding will go into this research.