Cannabis and Seniors

The prevalence of cannabis use among older adults (aged 65 and above) for recreational and medicinal purposes has significantly increased in recent years.

Information regarding the safety of cannabis in this population is important since aging is associated with metabolic changes, multiple morbidities, increases in prescription medication use, and an overall decline in functioning.

The history behind cannabis starts as far back as about 5,000 years when it was used as a medicine. Commonly used in the 1800s and early 1900s; however, under the first federal marijuana law of 1937 in the United States, the substance was prohibited and effectively banned the use of cannabis. Cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001 for medical use. On October 17th, 2017, cannabis became federally legal for recreational consumption.

What does it do?

Some studies show it can be effective in managing pain, along with people finding benefits in assisting with sleep issues, appetite stimulation, and combating nausea (often from chemotherapy).

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, a few clinical trials have identified that cannabis can help limit behavioural symptoms in people with dementia, including agitation and physically responsive behaviours / personal expressions, but only in some cases.

You have choices when using medical cannabis; there are products with THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and products with CBD (cannabidiol).

What is the difference?

THC:  Cannabinoid receptors concentrate in some regions of the brain linked to memory, pleasure, coordination, and pleasure. THC activates these receptors, leading to elevated mood, relaxation, and increased appetite. As mentioned above, It can also help with pain, sleep, and spasticity. THC is the primary molecule responsible for the euphoria associated with cannabis.

CBD: Cannabidiol provides the user’s benefits without the euphoria or intoxication that some people feel from THC. CBD has potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, in addition to being neuroprotective and helping with anxiety.

These two forms of cannabis are consumable in different varieties. Dried cannabis can be vaporized; oils can be ingested via capsules or you can consume the oil right from the dosed syringe.

A recent study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine found that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and effective for older persons who need relief from chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders.

Are you considering medical cannabis?

  1. Talk to your healthcare practitioner, caregiver, or pharmacist.
  2. Or get a referral – Your pharmacist can assist by providing access to a healthcare practitioner that can perform a comprehensive assessment.
  3. Obtain a medical document.
  4. Register with Spectrum Cannabis. Fill out the registration form online or print it to complete. Your pharmacist will assist with this process.


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