Many of today’s seniors were most likely middle-aged during the Regan-era war on drugs. Weed was the gateway drug and considered just as dangerous as crack-cocaine. Anti-weed PSAs were aplenty, making the perils of using pot easy to understand. And let us not forget the Reefer Madness mentality of the 1930s that convinced countless of today’s senior citizens when they were young that marijuana was something that should scare the sh*t out of you.
But this was all before the advent of marijuana research and modern technology. Nowadays, information on weed is readily available. And the information available about marijuana today is much different than it was forty years ago.
Seniors are Consuming More Cannabis than Ever Before
Welcome to modern America, where more parents and seniors are smoking weed than the counterculture youth of yesterday. A 2016 a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report showed that there has been a 333% rise in cannabis use amongst people aged 65 and over. The report also highlighted that people between the ages of 55-64 are smoking 455% more weed than they were a couple decades ago.
In the Age of Information, seniors are being exposed to increasingly positive reports about cannabis and how beneficial it can be for health. Another 2016 study published by Lancet Psychiatry showed that an increasingly vast majority of Americans no longer see marijuana as the harmful drug it was once perceived to be.
More seniors than ever before are interested in the therapeutic potential of marijuana. They are truly in the age demographic where cannabis could prove to be extremely beneficial for living a balanced and healthy life.
3 Ways Seniors Can Benefit from Medical Marijuana
1. It’s an Excellent Sleep Aid
If you’re over the age of 65, you might find it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia is common in seniors. And whether this is because of underlying health issues, depression, or anxiety, not getting the sleep you need sucks no matter what your age. And contrary to what many people assume, sleepless nights are not a natural part of the aging process.
More than a third of older adults in the US take sleeping pills to help them get the rest they need. There are however, some very real dangers associated with both prescription and non-prescription sleep meds. For one, they can be addictive. They can also lead to memory loss, hallucinations, high blood pressure, daytime drowsiness, dizziness, and more.
Marijuana however, can help seniors get the sleep they need without all the nasty side effects. Take Kerry Stiles, for instance, an almost 80-year-old nursing home resident. Stiles takes a few droplets of cannabis each night under his tongue that he says helps him get the sleep he needs. Or 95-year-old Alice, who turned to medical marijuana after she had exhausted every other option available to help her sleep. Since she’s been using medical cannabis, Alice now sleeps through the night.
2. It Provides Unprecedented Pain Relief
Sue Taylor was once a high school principal who drilled her students on the dangers of drugs. Then her son got into the business of legal marijuana and she decided to learn a little more about the plant. Let’s just say she changed her mind about marijuana. These days, Sue is known as the “Weed Lady” and speaks at community meetings in California to educate seniors on why marijuana can be beneficial.
“Number one is arthritis,” Taylor says. “There are tinctures and rubs that you can actually put on your legs, your knees, across your back, wherever you’re having arthritic pain. Most seniors use the cannabis for pain and to sleep.”
There is increasing evidence that medical marijuana is excellent for chronic pain. Whether you’re a senior suffering from arthritis, nerve damage, old injuries, illness, or the effects of chemotherapy, medical cannabis can help.
Dr. Igor Grant is a notable professor and chair at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. While he’s frustrated there hasn’t been more research, he believes “there is increasing evidence that cannabis is helpful in the management of certain kinds of pain.”
3. It Helps Fight Depression and Anxiety
More than 2 million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from depression. Anxiety isn’t much different. One study showed that more than 10 percent of older Americans aged 55-85 suffer from elderly anxiety disorder.
It just so happens that anxiety and depression are two of the major reasons people consume medical cannabis. In fact, marijuana has been used throughout history to treat depression. Not only has it shown to relieve stress, enhance mood, and offer focus and energy, but it’s pretty much perfect for making you laugh.
Cannabis is notorious for elevating euphoria and elevating mood. A 2006 study found occasional or daily cannabis users have lower levels of depressive symptoms. Researchers found that in low doses, THC increases serotonin and can serve as an antidepressant.
Medical Marijuana Can Greatly Benefit Senior Citizens
These are just a few reasons why weed is wonderful for an aging population. It’s a harmless, non-addictive substance that can significantly enhance a person’s quality of life whether used medicinally or recreationally.
Still not convinced? Check out the video below to see how cannabis affects three grandmas who try it for the first time.