More and more seniors are using legal marijuana. What you need to know about the benefits and risks.

Growing numbers of American seniors are adding a touch of green to their golden years as more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use and cannabis companies conduct outreach to communities of people elderly to educate potential patients and caregivers about the potential benefits.

But even as the stigma associated with marijuana use recedes and educational efforts spread, older adults need to exercise due diligence about the potential health benefits, risks and side effects, as well as the financial costs before deciding to consume it. Also, before using for medicinal or recreational purposes, the elderly should consult their physician.

“Cannabis simply has great potential to help seniors with overall quality of life,” says Dr. William Troutt, Senior Medical Director of Trulieve Cannabis, who adds that seniors are “definitely our growing demographic. the fastest”.

Benefits and medicinal risks

Older people use marijuana primarily to treat chronic pain caused by arthritis, nerve damage, cancer or other conditions, but some use it for anxiety, depression and sleep problems, said Dr. Elizabeth Ardillo, director of medical education at Green Thumb Industries.

Others use it for conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, Troutt said. For some, marijuana is an alternative or supplement to opioids, reducing their risk of overdosing or becoming dependent on these powerful painkillers, Troutt added.

Although marijuana is known to increase heart rate and blood pressure, it’s generally well tolerated by users of all ages, Troutt and Ardillo say. Still, they recommend seniors check with their doctor, especially if they’re on medication.

Marijuana can interact with certain heart medications, including blood thinners such as warfarin, altering their effectiveness or potency, Ardillo said. Cannabis can also enhance the effects of alcohol and anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, she added.

Also, when older people get high, they are at greater risk of falling or becoming confused and dizzy. So they should avoid driving and only use marijuana in a safe setting like home, Troutt said. New users should consider products low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana, start with small doses, and keep a diary noting the size, timing and effects of each dose. -he adds.

“One of the greatest benefits of cannabis for older adults is its safety profile, having very low physical toxicity,” Troutt said. “It’s very rare to see these high-risk drug interactions.”

Cost Considerations

Marijuana laws vary from state to state, but the costs can add up quickly. In Florida, for example, where only medical use is permitted, residents must pay a $75 application fee each year to obtain a medical card and be examined by a licensed marijuana doctor twice a year, with visits costing usually between $150 and $200. Since marijuana remains federally illegal, Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance will not cover any fees, doctor visits, or marijuana products.

Many dispensaries have frequent sales promotions and offer discounts to new users, seniors, and veterans, but daily users can expect to spend several hundred dollars a month. Recent email promotions from Trulieve, for example, advertised flower strains of marijuana, the type you smoke, for $43 to $53 for an eighth of an ounce, while one-gram TruPODS, containing marijuana oil extract used for vaping, cost $94.

Some dispensaries offer free delivery for seniors.

Better prices for marijuana flower can be found on the street, but dispensaries note that only their products are guaranteed to be free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals and tested for purity and potency. Additionally, dispensaries carry many forms of marijuana beyond flower not typically found on the street, including vaping products, topical lotions and gels, oral tinctures, capsules, and products. edibles such as gummies, brownies and cookies.

“Cost is always a concern when we’re talking about any type of drug,” Troutt said.

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