What is behind the trend of increased edible use in retirees?
In 2020, there has been a notable use of silver-haired retirees increasing their use, and knowledge of medical cannabis and edibles. The range of customers varies from the people in their 60’s to people in their 90’s, along with their reasons for use. The range of prerequisite knowledge varies greatly as well. Many try and ask subtly, as if they are breaking the law. Others, perhaps hippies in their earlier lives, jump right to questions looking to further their knowledge.
A recent study, presented in the Journal of the American Medical Association, marijuana use among older adults (65 years and older) in North America has increased steadily. From 2015-2018 marijuana use medical use nearly doubled from 2.4%-4.2%. This study has reflected numerous others on the subject, illustrating the general upwards growth trend.
Edible use. What is driving this increased trend?
A huge factor would be the decrease in the stigma of marijuana. As marijuana has become more widely accepted medically, adopted by the main stream media older adults have adopted it as well. a recent poll showed that 94% of Americans support medical marijuana. This support is an all-time high.
Another reason for the trend is the motive to decrease the amount of narcotics many are already on. Many feel like the need to look for a better, safer alternative. This is especially true for chronic pain management.
The elderly population are looking to alleviate illnesses with marijuana in the same way the rest of the population is. Increasing appetite, especially for patients with cancer. Treating insomnia are two other illnesses they look to treat as well.
Edibles tend to be preferred. Carcinogenic effects are not positive for anyone. Edibles, especially gummies, are often prefered since they are soft. Many elderly people like this method of administration.
What are the risk for older people and edibles?
While anecdotal to some degree, there does not seem to be many risks for the elderly population. At least no different when compared to the rest of the population. However, marijuana use has been stigmatized and illegal in many jurisdictions until recently, leaving it difficult to say for certain. but this is new territory. Increased studies need to be done for this age-group moving forward. While there hasn’t seemed to be any glaring differences between the elderly population as compared to the norm, there is usually a risk/benefit as with any medication.
Increased edible use and cardiac health with the elderly?
We know marijuana can increase heart rate, and blood pressure. While there has not been any evidence illustrating cannabis use to cardiac issues, it simply does not mean there are not any concerns either. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology in a recent review recommended screening people for coronary conditions prior to cannabis use. The concern is a customer taking a high dose of cannabis, perhaps edibles and having an anxiety attack with underling cardiac concerns.
Contraindications and edibles
Elderly population tends to have increased comorbidity issues. With that, is an increase in the amount of medications present in the bloodstream. Without roughly 600 chemicals in cannabis, and two active pharmaceutical ingredients (THC and CBD) there is concern for contraindications. THC and CBD can have the effect of either increasing or decreasing blood pressure in particular by changing enzymes in the liver that help metabolize your medications. CBD for example can act as an inhibitor to other medications, therefore increasing the medication in the blood stream. Basically, CBD blocks the ability for medications to be used at the receptor level.
Populations that should be particularly cautious with cannabis are those on anit-seizure medication or blood thinners. This is because the margin in dosing is extremely narrow. Serious side effects are also possible leaving not much room for error. This makes it essential to always communicate with your medical provider about your cannabis use. This is extremely crucial if planning to have surgery. Anesthesia drugs may need to be adjusted as a result.
With more public acceptance and reduced stigma, no doubt that cannabis use is growing. It is increasingly being using to enhance appetite, decrease chronic pain, treat insomnia. It is simply used to treat the same illnesses any cohort of the population encounters. However, special care and observation should be done under the care of a medical provider due to various medical issues and contraindications that may arise. Most of these issues are dose related. So establishing proper dosing with your medical provider is essential. Generally when in doubt, go low and slow.