Medical marijuana is getting a lot of attention these days as more states vote to legalize it, and along with the increased usage comes a greater focus on the effectiveness of the drug. One new report shows a segment of the population for whom medical cannabis has shown significant promise: elderly patients.
Adults who were an average of 81 years old reported relief from chronic pain, sleep problems, neuropathy and anxiety after using medical cannabis, according to the Dent Neurological Institute in Buffalo, New York. In addition, 32 percent of the people said they reduced their opioid pain medications after switching to medical marijuana.
The team reviewed the charts of more than 200 men and women ages 75 to 102 who were in New York’s Medical Marijuana Program. They chose to look at elder patients in part because across the U.S., one of the fastest-growing group of cannabis users are people 65 and older and the research in this area is limited.
About a third of the patients reported adverse effects such as sleepiness, balance problems and gastrointestinal disturbances at first, but the figure dropped significantly after their dosages were adjusted. Overall, more than three-quarters of the participants reported relief from chronic pain and other ailments.
So far, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Ten states also have legalized recreational use, and that’s led some medical experts to worry about older patients who may choose to self-medicate without proper guidance.
As medical marijuana becomes more popular, researchers are focusing on fine-tuning dosage amounts and delivery methods to get the optimal results.