In the United States, the use of medical cannabis is now possible in a large number of states, and a third of them have also legalised the use of recreational cannabis. As a result of these changes, part of the population has been able to discover or rediscover its use and appreciate its benefits: the elderly. According to a recently published study, cannabis use among American seniors has increased by 75% in 3 years.
Study of cannabis use among seniors in the United States
Posted at the beginning of March 2020, on the scientific journal ‘JAMA Int. Medicine ‘, this study was carried out by a team of researchers from the New York Grossman School of Medicine. It is available for consultation by clicking on this link.
Following the legalisation and appearance of cannabis in the pharmacopoeia of many American states, as you can see on the map below, more and more doctors are advising its use, particularly among Americans aged 65 and over. Since 1996, 31 states have legalised and authorised the use of medical cannabis, and 12 have authorised its recreational use.
Indeed, the study in question highlights an impressive statistic: cannabis use among adults aged 65 and over has risen from 2.4% in 2015 to 4.2% in 2018, i.e. an increase of almost 75% in barely 3 years.
Our study shows that cannabis use is becoming increasingly popular throughout the country among older people,” says the study’s lead author, Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Palliative Care and Population Health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. As more and more older adults are using cannabis, whether for therapeutic or recreational purposes, it is important that health care providers counsel their patients despite the very limited database on the pros and cons of cannabis use in the elderly.
The results of the study
In order to carry it out, the scientists who took part in this study were able to analyse a survey that was carried out at the national level by a recognised American organisation for the collection of surveys and statistics: BHSQ (Bheavioral Health Scatistics & Quality).
The latter focused on drug use among many Americans, regardless of their current state of residence. In addition to the question of consumption, the means used (flowers, hashish, oil, capsule, cream, etc.) and the method of administration (oral, sprayed, etc.) were also asked. More specifically, they looked at the results concerning seniors, i.e. American adults over 65 years of age, between 2015 and 2018, across the country.
The results are as follows: in 2015, nearly 2.4% of American seniors used or had used cannabis in the past year; in 2018, nearly 4.2% of seniors said the same thing, i.e. an increase of 75% in 3 years!
Several ‘categories’ of the population have seen an even greater increase than others:
- Adults with diabetes have almost doubled their use of medical cannabis
- People drinking alcohol have also doubled their consumption.
- Women, married people, people with a college diploma or higher income also significantly increased their consumption
The medical profession is asking for more studies in order to give the best advice
We need to continue to study both the risks and benefits of cannabis use, particularly among older people,” says the study’s lead author, Joseph Palamar, MPH, PhD, Associate Professor of Population Health at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
This study gives us important information about cannabis use among the main groups of older adults, especially the baby boomers,” says Caroline S. Blaum, MD, Professor Diane and Arthur Belfer of Geriatrics and Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care . Understanding how our elderly patients use cannabis and assessing its risks and benefits is one of the most important questions our field must answer to provide the best care.