More senior citizens turning to marijuana
(WXYZ) – The November election is not far off where voters will decide if recreational marijuana should be legalized here in Michigan. Whether or not the ballot proposal passes, the cannabis industry is certainly thriving in other states. And a surprising new group of users has sprung up, senior citizens.
Why are seniors engaging in marijuana?
The reality is, as we get older, many people can face health issues. And as much as I love science and the medical industry, we don’t always have the perfect solution to some of these challenging conditions. And what many of these seniors are seeking is relief from chronic pain, depression, anxiety or insomnia. They’re looking for alternative treatments to surgery or prescription medications and painkillers like opioids. As we know people can become addicted to opioids and high doses can even cause death.
Buses in California pick up and drive older folks to cannabis businesses. Is that concerning and are their risks?
With the steep increase in seniors over the age of 65 looking for relief, marijuana dispensaries are catering to where the demand is. What concerns me is, lots of people believe cannabis use is safe. But dosing and consistency can vary because the FDA does not regulate this industry. So people can suffer from intense nausea and vomiting, breathing problems and a faster heart rate. There’s also the potential for addiction if marijuana is used long term. Research suggests it’s between 9 and 30 percent.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. It has over 500 chemicals but we hear a lot about THC and CBD. Now THC is the mind-altering ingredient that marijuana is well-known for, while CBD is non-psychoactive. So if products only contain CBD, you won’t get “a high” from it, your state of mind will not change. If you plan to try this for health reasons, look for licensed providers, be careful of dosing and be sure to talk to your doctor first. As marijuana and some medications don’t mix and can have dangerous interactions.
- Be careful of long-term health effects. Marijuana can affect brain development and studies have shown declines in IQ between preteen years and adulthood.
- Long-term use has been linked to mental effects like temporary hallucinations and paranoia. It can also worsen symptoms in those who have schizophrenia.
- If the dose is too high or a person ingests too many marijuana products, side effects can be so extreme that people seek help at emergency rooms. However, there have been no reports of adults or teens dying from marijuana use.
- Older adults should start out cautiously with a low dose as they tend to be more sensitive to side effects. Also, the research on marijuana use in older folks is very limited.
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