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Why More Seniors Are Choosing Medical Marijuana in Ohio

Why More Seniors Are Choosing Medical Marijuana

A large segment of Americans is getting older. By year 2050, the population of America 65 years or older will be an estimated 83.7 million people. [1] Cannabis use is increasing among these older Americans. Between the years 2000 and 2015, cannabis use for persons older than 50, changed from 1% [2] to 9% past year usage. Medical marijuana is even gaining popularity among people in their 70s and 80s! [3] This blog will discuss why seniors are now choosing to take medical marijuana.

It is being noted that seniors are deciding to use medical marijuana because it often will work, when their current medications are not working sufficiently. Many of their medications’ adverse effects are decreasing their quality of life. Medical marijuana is not addictive unlike many prescription drugs. On top of that, some seniors may have to decide between eating or getting their medication, with prescription medications costing too much for their budget.   

Medical marijuana use among the older Americans is determined by state laws, social attitudes, their health conditions and prescription medications. [2] The state of Ohio allows medical marijuana use for a number of qualifying chronic conditions.  Many seniors in Ohio have qualifying health issues for medical marijuana. No matter which qualifying condition you have for medical marijuana, our Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctors at DocMJ can help you with all of your medical marijuana needs.

Social attitudes are shifting, from a negative perception that was sold and maintained to the public via the media for eighty years, to a positive one. In 2006, Wang and Chen did a study which suggested that attitudes changed more easily, when the issue becomes more relevant.  When a person is in a health crisis, it suddenly becomes more relevant to them, and they become open to new ideas. [2] Many seniors are overcoming their initial reluctance to consume medical marijuana, for a number of reasons. These reasons will be discussed below.

One reason that seniors are choosing medical marijuana is that their chronic ailments are frequently under treated or misused by prescription medications.

Doctor David Casarett, a neurologist, performed interviews with his patients concerning medical marijuana.  He states that he found several takeaways from these discussions. The first was that, YES, medical marijuana did indeed have benefits.  Also, medical marijuana helps a number of conditions which might be under treated or misused by prescription drugs:

  • PAIN- Cancer causes ongoing pain, which often is being under treated.  This occurs in spite of the fact that the patients are taking heavy duty pain medications, even opioids. Chronic pain can drastically decrease quality of life, sometimes causing the person to become bed bound and not even eat. What is so important about medical marijuana, is that it can work for cancer patients in multiple ways.  It not only helps relieve pain, nausea, and anorexia, but it also decreases inflammation and helping the body’s multiple systems reboot after radiation or chemotherapy, etc.[4]
  • NAUSEA/ANOREXIA- Cancer patients may also have nausea and anorexia (lack of appetite), as well as hormone deficiencies secondary to chemotherapy or radiation treatments.  This can cause cachexia, which is severe loss of muscle and fat tissue, as well as hormone deficiencies.  In fact, it is the leading cause of death from cancer.  Medical marijuana (Delta-9-THC) can decrease nausea, improve appetite, as well as reboot hormone production. [4] This literally saves lives. At the same time, very high levels of medical marijuana have been shown to be capable of causing cancer apoptosis, which causes cancer cells to die. [5]
  • CHRONIC PAIN- A number of different types of pain can be reduced with the use of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana can help pain from arthritis via creams, rubs, or lotions.  Neuropathy or nerve damage pain can be alleviated with medical marijuana. Pain from other chronic diseases, such as lupus, MS and diabetes, can also be decreased.  [4] Patients frequently can decrease opioids or taper off of them entirely while taking medical marijuana. Deaths from opioid use also decrease.
  • EATING DISORDERS- Those patients that don’t want to eat (anorexia) or have eating disorders will start eating again with medical marijuana. The endocannabinoid system helps reboot the brain, so that the person sees food as a reward again.  This is very important with seniors, since appetite can be decreased by loss of smell, loss of taste, various medications, dental issues, cancer treatments, or emotional issues.  Lack of income to buy food, decreased ability to shop and lack of energy to cook can also be factored in. Nearly 80% of deaths from anorexia occur among the elderly. [4]   
  • ANXIETY OR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES- The cannabinoid, CBD can help treat mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.)   CBD works in a similar method to anti-anxiety medications, but without the addiction.  It stimulates the serotonin receptors.  However, there are some who have increased anxiety with medical marijuana. If this occurs, let your doctor know as soon as possible. Sometimes tweaking of the dosage or decreasing the ratio of THC to CBD may help.
  • GLAUCOMA– For those seniors with glaucoma, medical marijuana can relieve pressure for hours at a time. Since glaucoma is a major cause of blindness for those over 60 years old, this is significant.  However, the drawback is that it has to be effective 24/7 for the prevention of damage to the eyes.  According to Oregon Eye Doctors, this is why the eye drops might be more effective. [4] More discussion and studies need to be done, regarding how to cause medical marijuana to have a longer term effect with this application.
  • INSOMNIA- It has been known for decades among night time medical staff, that sleeping medications tend to work in an opposite manner among the elderly. We knew NOT to give them most sleeping medications.  The FDA has just recently issued a “black box” warning for some prescription sleeping medications.  A black box warning is the highest warning given by the FDA.  It indicates that the prescription medication has caused deaths.  Medical marijuana has been found to be a good and safe alternative.     
  • ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE- About 10% of seniors have this disease.  Medical marijuana can help with both depression and loss of appetite that might occur. [4] The cannabinoid, THC can also help with the elderly person’s memory. THC helps the brain (hippocampus) to grow additional connections (synaptic spines), to improve brain activity. [5][6] It activates genes that support nerve cells (neurons) and deactivated genes that express cell death. Cannabinoids decrease the inflammatory burden, while giving antioxidant effects. [7]

A 2013 study revealed that more than 90% of medical marijuana patients of the 7500 surveyed, said that medical marijuana helped treat their conditions. [4] There are a number of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. You can contact our Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctors at DocMJ to check for eligibility.  

Seniors want safer options than their prescription drugs. They also want alternatives to drugs that are being misused.

Seniors want safer options than prescription drugs.  They want to be more in control.  For example, people that have pain issues can often utilize medical marijuana to get pain relief, while still being able to safely care for their children.  They want to be able to continue working at their jobs.

Neurologist David Casarett M.D.  States that the feeling that they have lost “control” occurs with patients who have chronic diseases. Sometimes their functioning is decreased. Other times, even their cognition is impaired, either by the disease process or by the petrochemical drugs they are taking. They feel their body has betrayed them, in that others may have to assist them.  This is terrifying, and they want their control back.  They like the fact that with medical marijuana, they can control when they take it as well as the form that they take.  If one dosage is not effective for them, they can change it without permission. They also like that medical marijuana is often working in ways that other pharmaceuticals are not. Part of the increased control with medical marijuana, is that it has less addictive potential than caffeine in coffee.       

A great benefit is that medical marijuana cannot be overdosed.  Medical marijuana’s side effects are usually dose dependent and are comparatively mild. On the other hand, prescription drugs have 2.2 million serious adverse effects.  Severe organ damage and death are among them. Chronic use of prescription drugs often leads to new chronic diseases. It is disease maintenance, at its best.      

   

Seniors want more cost-effective options.

The average cost that a senior pays yearly for prescription drugs is $3,000.  Medical marijuana averages about $650 a year. [4] However, drugs are just the beginning of the costs that the senior may have to pay for healthcare. Costs can exceed $65K+ a year.   

Because of seeing the financial loss that occurred with their parents, today’s seniors are now wary.  They saw how their parents saved throughout their lifetime to gain a nest egg for their retirement.  However, the cost of treatments for these parents to maintain chronic diseases consumed their savings quickly. Often, it took only one parent to use up their entire lifetime savings.  This often occurred, even if they had good insurance.

Baby boomers do not want this to happen to them.  They are looking for alternatives that will keep them healthier and will cost them much less.  They are looking for having more control over their treatments, as well as its cost.  Medical marijuana is one such alternative, that will have multiple benefits for the consumer. [4]   

It is evident that medical marijuana use is on the rise among the aging population.  It may be an effective substitute for misused medications, as well as an alternative for the undertreatment of pain at the end of life.  Other chronic conditions are being treated with medical marijuana. Now that medical marijuana is legal in so many states, more research will be done to prove its efficacy with more issues.  As more research is done, the usage will increase even more. (3) No matter which medical marijuana qualifying condition you have, our Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctors at DocMJ  can help you with all of your medical marijuana needs.

References:

  1.   Lloyd MPH, Shawnta and Striley PhD, Catherine. Marijuana Use Among Adults 50 years or Older in the 21st Century. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. Volume 4:1-14.
  2.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/280777451
  3. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/09/12/646423762/more-older-americans-are-turning-to-marijuana
  4.   https://www.aging.com/the-complete-guide-to-medical-marijuana-for-seniors
  5.   https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/research/cachexia
  6.   https://www.marijuanadoctors.com/blog/marijuana-for-improved-memory-in-seniors
  7.   Blaylock MD, Russell. Excitotoxins The Taste that Kills. Health Press. 1994:33-57.