Anxiety is a common reason geriatric patients turn to medical marijuana, new research finds.
Teenagers have consumed marijuana less and less in legal states. Instead, baby boomers have taken their place. As BDS Analytics noted in a consumer report last year, baby boomers have become an “important and growing segment” of cannabis consumers. In other words, more adults are using marijuana more than ever. A February study showed marijuana use among adults ages 65 and over had risen 75% in the past three years.
Neither analysis explained why older consumers were using more marijuana. But a brand new study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatric may provide answers. University of California, San Diego researchers compiled self-administered data from 568 patients who visited the university’s geriatric clinic over 12 weeks. Questions included if, why, and how seniors used cannabis, what kinds of marijuana they used (CBD or THC?), lifetime use, and how it helped treat symptoms.
You won’t be surprised that older adults choose cannabis for medicinal reasons over recreation. The most common medical reasons included pain, sleep, and anxiety. Researchers were keen to understand why older adults turned to marijuana for anxiety.
“Anxiety was a common reason for using cannabis among older adults,” the study’s authors wrote. “Overall, use of cannabis for anxiety is perceived to be helpful in alleviating symptoms.”
Those who used marijuana to target anxiety symptoms were more likely to use cannabis with THC, more likely to vape flower, and more likely to consume edibles than other patients. Researchers noted that more than three-fifths of older patients were first-time users, though another significant portion were re-acquainting themselves with the plant. They also suggested cannabis could replace polypharmacy in multiple senior patients who use multiple medications to treat different ailments.
“More research on cannabis in older adults is warranted including prevalence of use, efficacy in treating anxiety, and potential changes in concurrently prescribed anxiolytic medications as a result of cannabis use,” the study’s authors added.