Marijuana is stepping in where prescription pharmaceuticals have been unsuccessful, particularly among members of the 55-and-up crowd, who appear to be ditching pills in favor of the controversial herb. An article in TheGlobeandMail.com explored the use of medical marijuana among senior citizens. The report found that marijuana use is becoming increasingly common particularly in Canada. The article noted that while some seniors are reacquainting themselves with cannabis after years of recreational use in the psychedelic ’60s, still more are first-time users who have turned to the herb for relief from chronic pain, arthritis, and other medical conditions.
Among those first-time users is Hope Bobowski, who told TheGlobeandMail.com that she takes cannabidiol (CBD) oil every day for her back pain caused by osteoarthritis. Because CBD is the non-psychoactive component in cannabis, it serves a purely medicinal purpose, and those who take it do not get “high”. Bobowski shared in the article that she saw CBD oil as a natural alternative to the codeine-spiked narcotic analgesics and opiod pain medications prescribed by her doctor.
It is no surprise then that the popularity of cannabis among seniors has been — and continues to be — on the rise. In May 2016, CBSNews.com reported a rise in marijuana use among seniors saying that the number of adults taking cannabis jumped from 2.8 million to 3.4 million within a year.
Marijuana has been found to have many medicinal uses, both for common afflictions, as well as more serious health conditions — many of which are common among the elderly.
In a story in Prevention.com, top doctors from the American Cancer Society and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine studied marijuana in small amounts to determine its health benefits. The doctors found that marijuana is an effective treatment for nausea, nerve pain, and multiple sclerosis. They also found that it could potentially treat or at least alleviate symptoms of conditions such as epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s, and cancer.
In fact, cannabis’ association with cancer treatments is one of the strongest arguments in favor of nationwide medical marijuana legalization. According to the American Cancer Society, some studies have found that smoking marijuana can help ease the nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Further, there are also scientists who have found that CBD and THC (marijuana’s psychoactive component) can slow down or kill certain types of cancer cells grown in lab dishes. Such findings are a breakthrough in the world of cancer research, bringing scientists closer to finding promising alternatives for mainstream cancer treatments.
There has even been evidence that suggests that marijuana can help treat mental health disorders. An article in DailyMail.co.uk reports on a study published in the European Neuropsychopharmacology journal. According to the story, researchers administered THC and a placebo to test subjects who were active marijuana users. Upon comparing, they found that those with THC in their bloodstream had reduced negativity in the emotion-processing parts of the brain, suggesting that it could be a possible treatment for depression.
The younger generation is also turning to cannabis, ditching alcohol for what they deem to be a safer, more affordable alternative.
Scientists and doctors continue to work in an effort to destigmatize marijuana. Current legislation indicates that attitudes towards the herb have relaxed, albeit not entirely. At the moment, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and is only legal to varying degrees in 29 states.
Given this, it would appear that more evidence of marijuana’s medical properties is needed — though for the seniors that have taken to using the herb, their improved health is all the proof they need.