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Cannabis Use Common in Older Adults

FRIDAY, Oct. 16, 2020 -- Most older adults using cannabis report initiating use after the age of 60 years primarily to treat pain, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Kevin H. Yang, from the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues assessed cannabis use among 568 older adults (≥65 years old) visiting a geriatrics clinic.

The researchers indicated that 15 percent of survey respondents reported using cannabis within the previous three years. More than half (53 percent) reported using cannabis regularly either on a daily or weekly basis. More than three-quarters of respondents (78 percent) used cannabis for medical purposes only. Other participants reported using cannabis for targeting pain/arthritis (73 percent), sleep disturbance (29 percent), anxiety (24 percent), and depression (17 percent). The majority reported cannabis to be "somewhat" or "extremely" helpful in managing one of these conditions. Approximately half obtained cannabis via a dispensary. Cannabis forms included lotions (35 percent), tinctures (35 percent), and smoking (30 percent). While most respondents said family members knew of their cannabis use (94 percent), far less (41 percent) said their health care provider knew. Additionally, 61 percent said they used cannabis for the first time as older adults (aged ≥61 years).

"Cannabis use by older adults is likely to increase due to medical need, favorable legalization, and attitudes," write the authors.

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Posted: October 2020

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