A new survey found that marijuana use nearly doubled among men ages 65 to 69 between 2016 and 2018.
Now that marijuana has earned legal status across different states, it has gone through a process of reevaluation. People of all ages are now more open to trying the plant, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes. One of the fastest growing demographics are baby boomers. But there are 3 cautions for older cannabis users.
A survey conducted on adults over the age of 55 between 2016 and 2018 found that men are increasing the amount of marijuana they consume, particularly those between the ages of 60-64. According to NBC News:
Men ages 60 to 64 reported the highest rates of marijuana use, with 12.6 percent of those surveyed saying they used the drug in the past 30 days in 2018, up from 8.9 percent in 2016. Over the same time period, use also nearly doubled among men ages 65 to 69 (rising from 4.3 percent in 2016 to 8.2 percent in 2018) and among men ages 70 to 74 (from 3.2 percent to 6 percent). There was less change in the use among women.
Study co-author Bill Jesdale told NBC News he has some theories as to why more older adults are using weed, such as a greater willingness to admit to use because of lower stigma, increased availability of the drug, and lowered inhibitions against use.
There’s also other contributing factors, including a global leaning towards more natural medicines, and older adults specifically seeking pain relief and sleep aids, preferably those that don’t come with significant side effects.
While young adults are still the largest consumers of cannabis in the U.S., the rise in older adult use and seniors concerns some researchers; there are a few factors that could influence the effect marijuana has on them. Here are three of the most pressing:
Reactions with medication
The most pressing issue medical experts are concerned with is the possible effect marijuana can have with common medications taken by older adults. A review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says that marijuana can interact with common heart medications, such as statin and blood thinners. Marijuana use can alter the time in which these medications have an effect and could also result in excessive bleeding.
People should also avoid pairing marijuana with anti-seizure medications or any other substance that produces strong effects. If having surgery, it’s important for older adults to disclose marijuana use to doctors, even including the use of CBD. The compound has also been linked with altering the way in which the liver processes dosages in medications.
Higher risk of falls and accident
While this should concern mostly seniors, the use of marijuana could result in dizziness and in feeling out of control of your body. This in turn could increase the risk of falling and getting involved in all sorts of accidents. Falls pose serious risks for seniors, with 1 out of 5 resulting in a head injury or in broken bones.
Seniors and adults with higher risk for dementia and confusion should be careful with their marijuana intake, especially when consuming products with high THC content. THC and its psychoactive effects can result in unexpected side effects for people who’ve experienced psychiatric conditions or have a predisposition for them.