Senior Citizens and Cannabis Use

Senior Citizens and Cannabis Use
Seniors are exploring cannabis.

Hopefully gone are the days of “reefer madness” myths. I say that with optimistic caution. Cannabis advocates are fighting to make it so but in some states like, Kansas parents are still losing custody of their children for smoking pot. I know. It’s insane. Thank the DARE school based program that trains kids to report their parents like we are living in North Korea. I thought about my grandchildren and that morphed into my thinking about how cannabis is being viewed by seniors.


In an article published by Senior Directory ten things seniors should know there is good information to dispel some of the myths like the fact that cannabis is addictive and like the overdose claims. A 140 pound person would need to consume over four pounds of cannabis in one sitting to get to toxic levels and even then it would not be a fatal dose. I can’t but think that the person would barf before reaching that threshold.


Conversely, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing discusses ‘hidden epidemic’ of elderly painkiller abuse in  Opiod overdose among seniors. In 2013 there were over 23,000 deaths in the U.S. associated with prescription overdose and 70% were attributable to opioids. Medicare data states that 8.5 million prescriptions for opioids were provided to seniors over the age of 65 last year.


Kolodny thinks accidental deaths by opioid overdose are under reported. His reasons make good common sense. How many families grieving over the death of an elderly parent or grand parent ask for an autopsy? The overdose victim normally has a history of poor health and nobody really wants to know if their elderly loved one overdosed on drugs.


Would cannabis alleviate the need for opioid medications? Probably not but current research indicates that cannabis may lesson the need for increased use of opioid pain relievers. Cannabis has pain relieving and symptom abatement effects on many conditions, including joint pain which often plagues the elderly. So too there is evidence that cannabis can lessen or eliminate hypertension, chronic headaches, abdominal symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome and a host of other conditions.


Okay, so you buy that cannabis might be a better alternative to other pharmaceuticals but what about being high? Don’t fret. There are many species and strains that do not produce the typical THC high but provide medicinal pluses from the many other active compounds. Frankly. I think it is worth the effort to explore the benefits of what might be a real gift from Mother Nature. After all  human beings actually have receptors throughout our bodies to attach and react to cannabis. I think most family members would rather see grandma with the munchies and smiles as opposed to popping opioids and a zillion other pills, potions, etc. with really bad side effects. Maybe this is but one reason the pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest naysayers against legalization.

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