Medical use of marijuana among seniors is associated with self-reported improvements in health-related quality of life (HRQL), according to a new study which joins a growing body of scientific literature that has reached similar conclusions.
The study, published in the journal Clinical Gerontologist, is the work of a team of researchers from the Universities of Illinois and Iowa who wanted to investigate whether the use of medical marijuana by seniors over a one-year period was associated with an impact in the subjects’ HRQL. Over the course of a year, the researchers interviewed 139 seniors across Colorado and Illinois about their use of medical cannabis and whether they experienced any health-related changes over that period.
Based on subjects’ self-reporting, researchers found a “strong positive association” between the frequency of the seniors’ therapeutic use of marijuana and self-reported improvements in pain, health-care utilization (HCU) and HRQL. The researchers also asked participants whether they had experienced any negative health effects during the same period but no statistically significant association was reported.
In their conclusion, the researchers go on to note that participants who used more medical cannabis tended to report bigger improvements in their health, though the researchers are also quick to caution against the “generalizability” of the findings.
“Our regression modeling also identified a strong positive relationship between higher frequency of cannabis use and self-reported improvements to pain symptoms,” the study reads. “The positive relationship between near-daily use and improved reports offers further evidence of the perceived value of medical cannabis as a therapeutic approach for pain management.”
NORML Deputy Director Paul responded to the latest study on seniors’ use of medical marijuana by saying many are “well aware of the litany of serious adverse side-effects associated with available prescription drugs, like opioids, and they perceive medical cannabis to be a viable alternative.”
The self-reported benefits of medical cannabis use among older adults was also detailed in a study published in the journal Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine last year. Another 2018 study, published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, found an overwhelming majority of elderly patients with chronic pain reported improvements after using medical cannabis over six months. A comprehensive study comprising 100,000 responses over 20 years found marijuana use among older adults was associated with less pain, better health and even increased participation in the workforce.
There have also been promising studies indicating the efficacy of cannabis at helping people suffering from age-related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s perhaps not surprising then that marijuana use among overs 50s is increasing dramatically.