Study: Cannabis Use By Elderly Patients Blunts Pharmaceutical Use

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As prescription drug abuse runs rampant within every demographic of the American landscape, a new Israeli study indicates the use of cannabis is not only safe and effectual for the elderly –  it also reduces the use of addictive pharmaceuticals.

Published by the European Journal of Internal Medicine, the study discovered three intriguing correlations between America’s growing elderly population and marijuana use.

  • After six months of cannabis treatment, 93.7 percent reported improvement in their condition.
  • After six months of treatment, the number of reported falls was significantly reduced.
  • Medicinal cannabis reduced the use of prescription medicines, including opioids.

For the cannabis study, 2,736 patients over the age of 65 began utilizing medicinal cannabis to help mitigate pain and cancer-related discomforts. Occurring between Jan. 2015 and Oct. 2017 in a specialized medical marijuana clinic, participants were required to fill out a questionnaire addressing their “outcomes” as they related to “pain intensity, quality of life and any adverse events” after six months.

Considered effectual medication by 93.7 percent of the study’s participants, the mean age of those partaking in the cannabis research was 74.5 ± 7.5 years. Of the 2,736 participants, 60.8 percent were suffering from cancer and looking for pain relief, while 66.6 percent were in search of an alternative treatment for pain, according to the study.

“After six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0–10 to a median of 4. Most common adverse events were: dizziness (9.7%) and dry mouth (7.1%). After six months, 18.1% stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose.”

But while the study found the therapeutic use of medical marijuana “may decrease the use of other prescription medicine, including opioids,” and is “safe and efficacious in the elderly population,” it also suggested that more “evidence-based data” is required.

About Author

My name is Monterey Bud and I was born in Long Beach and raised on the central coast. I surf, dab, burn and write. I'm a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I have been writing about marijuana strains, science, and politics for Marijuana.com since 2012. A Big Sur cultivator from the pre-helicopter days, I'm a big fan of new strains and breaking news. I can be reached on Twitter @MontereyBud

8 Comments

  1. So important to enable elderly people to have access to cannabis. Without a doubt much safer and more effective than the debilitating drugs that are currently used to chemically restrain our elderly in nursing homes.
    Let these people have an enjoyable day, a good nights sleep an improved apatite etc. Care plans will vary with each person as they do for every cannabis user. The quality of life will be improved for all. Patients and caregivers alike. Less stress all around. Love it!

  2. Imagine if this stuff was legal 30 years ago (which it should have been) all the tech and research to refine what we are just starting to do. I am an older American that smoked weed when I was young, gave it for some 20 years cause I had kids. I have to say the oils are so refined and so different the medical quality is wonderful! It just goes to show you we have people in government that should NOT be lawmakers. They have contributed to the awful prescription overdoses and caused older people back then to suffer from ailments addressed like they are today with medical cannabis. NO ONE, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE should be subject to suffer because of incompetence, ignorance or government lag. It’s about time!

  3. Freedom of choice – we can either treat our ailments with a natural, unaltered plant that’s been tested for molds and pesticides or we can slug down Vicodin and Percocet all day and night which leaves us in a semi-zombie state of addiction. I choose to opt for the former, thank you.

    • Unfortunately many elders don’t have the option because of where they reside. Now this little man Attorney General wants to take us back to a 100% Black Market. The state I’m in just recently, after 4-1/2 year wait, got its MMJ up and running. Okay, that’s great. The problem is there aren’t that many qualifying drs, and because of this move in January rescinding the Cole Memo many drs are opting out for fear of Federal prosecution. There’s not one recommending dr anywhere near where I live. But, hey, it’s a states rights issue. That’s what was said on the campaign trail. For the record I never believed a word of it, either. But it did get him, at least, some votes.

  4. As a couple in our late 50’s and early 60’s, we find cannabis invaluable. Radical arthritis in hips, back, and neck, insomnia, acute and chronic pain from results of military service. We cannot take opioids, muscle relaxants, high doses of anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen. We also don’t drink, which some turn to for pain relief and sleep. (It helps with neither, by the way). The government can clear dangerous drugs and alcohol as safe but not cannabis? It is not physically habit-forming or addictive unlike the aforementioned legal “drugs”. How many times have you seen someone kill another person, attack their spouse, start a fight, crash their car or kill themselves on cannabis? I would dare say, never, if only cannabis is involved. Our country and our government have to get into the 21st century. But I suppose pharmaceuticals are much more lucrative as is a tax on alcohol sales. Then you create more money from dealing with addiction, rehab, and drugs to counteract all these problems. Put the real felons in jail…let those incarcerated just for cannabis out to help those who need it and to live lives as good citizens. There are too many people who need to be incarcerated for ripping off our citizens and creating poverty. Great article, thank you!

  5. 2 years ago I was taking 33 pills a day. I was on methadone for chronic pain and had been for 10 years. I had to take several other medications to deal with side effects of the methadone. I was also on anti-anxiety meds, sleeping pills, antidepressants, and two different migraine medications.
    Since medical marijuana became legal in Florida, I am now no longer taking any medication except an allergy pill. I forgot to take my antidepressant for so long I was weaned off of it without realizing it. I have not taken a migraine pill since August. I’m sleeping better, I’m in a much better mood, and my chronic pain is almost gone.
    I just turned 58 last week, and this is the best I have felt in over 10 years. I wish they would just accept the inevitable and legalize this fully. Statistics have shown it doesn’t do all the bad things they say it does. What it has done is give me my life back.

    • I also smoked weed as a teenager, but it was mostly Mexican shwag and it made me sleepy, hungry and a little paranoid. I also quit, for 25 years while I raised my kids, not wanting them to be influenced by what I thought was a bad choice. But it was my sons, who convinced me to give the new medical grade bud a chance. I had been suffering from chronic and at times, acute pain, from trigeminal neuralgia and herniated discs. I was taking Vicoden, Alleve and Neurontin on a daily basis and I had been for years. When I moved to a medical state, they started me on a tincture, then I started smoking bud again. Well, 5 years later and I can report, that I’ve been off the opiates for 3 years. The nerve in my jaw has healed and I rarely have the “flare ups” in my back. I attribute this to medical grade cannabis and it’s anti-inflammatory qualities. I am an RN who is now a Cannabis Nurse, reaching out to as many people as I can to share knowledge of this amazing plant and its healing properties.

      • The prohibitionists just won’t give it a rest. Project SAM is the worst of the lot! And Robert DuPont would like for our pcp’s to take a mandatory urine sample to test for illegal drug usage. If the test is + then it’s a criminal matter. I hope this doesn’t see the light of day.

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