Data from a new study shows that more older adults are using one or more marijuana product, but their doctors are not ready to discuss marijuana use with this demographic.
The new study findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed an increase in the percentage of adults above the age of 65 who said that they had consumed some form of marijuana within the past year. The increase was 75% higher in 2018 than it was in 2015; 4.2 % of the adults said that they had used marijuana in the past year. Marijuana consumption among the older generation has been increasing drastically since 2006 when it was recorded that less than 0.5 percent of the older generations were using cannabis.
The study author and geriatrician Benjamin Han said that the current trend in consumption of marijuana among older patients was not there ten years ago since no patient of his asked him about marijuana use ever. Han further said that marijuana questions are common questions in the clinic today. Han is an assistant professor in the division of geriatric medicine and palliative care at the New York University School of Medicine. Han said that patients ask him about marijuana consumption about once a week. He noted that there is a significant interest in the use of marijuana amongst the older generation.
The survey used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and included responses from more than 14,000 people who participated in the study. Han said that the survey did not ask the older adults why they chose to use cannabis. But from his perspective, it may probably be because of the legalization of medical and adult-use marijuana as well as destigmatization of cannabis. It may also be attributed to the availability of more and more information on the use of marijuana in treating chronic conditions.
The survey revealed that a large percentage of people who have diabetes were using marijuana, probably because it helped in managing nerve pain which can be triggered by chronic pain. Han also said that an increased use of marijuana was also noted in cancer patients.
However, the study did not ask the respondents if they had arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, or chronic pain, which are all qualifying conditions, and people use marijuana to treat these ailments. A 2019 study found that older adults used marijuana to manage chronic pain, but the study did not capture all the chronic conditions that affect the older generation.
Han further said that despite the increased use of marijuana among the older generation, doctors were still not comfortable talking about weed with patients. This is mainly because of the lack of enough evidence on its medical use since older adults are usually excluded from clinical trials. Doctors should offer these patients with consultation services before they consume marijuana. This is because they are more vulnerable to the effects of THC. Furthermore, weed might react negatively with other prescription drugs, and since older patients with chronic conditions tend to take more medication, a doctor’s advice is essential.
It would be eye-opening to hear what established cannabis companies like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) have to say regarding the best way to get medical professionals to guide older adults as they use different forms of marijuana.
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