A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has shown the use of cannabis by the elderly is experiencing quite the rise. This further exhibits the recent trends of cannabis inclusivity as the plant becomes more widely accepted across the globe.
The study has compared the number of adults over the age of 65 who have reported the use of cannabis products. The results were finally published on the 24th of February, and indicated a 75% increase in cannabis consumption by the elderly between 2015 and 2018.
Just 2.4% of those over 65 in the US were using cannabis products in 2015, according to the study. Whereas in 2018, we see an estimated 4.2% of senior citizens using cannabis in 2018.
Researchers conducted their study with data from those 65 years of age and older. Their data was obtained from the four most recent editions of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and had over 15 000 responses.
What Does All This Data Actually Say?
Firstly, the data indicates a general increase in cannabis consumption amongst this particular demographic. However, we can see further changes when isolating the data into more specific groups.
Women have seen the biggest change as their group and have exhibited the most significant increase. And more specifically those who have a higher income and those who have a university education.
The use of cannabis rose across all races and ethnic groups. The respondents were 55% male and 77% of the respondents were white.
What’s the Cause?
The authors themselves acknowledged that the increase is likely due to the general legalisation of cannabis. During the three years in which the data was collected, numerous states became more accepting of cannabis and even legalised in some.
Four states legalised cannabis, namely California, Massachusetts, Vermont and Nevada, in recreational terms. While Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Oklahoma also relaxed their stance on the plant.
However, the researchers do believe there is more than just the matter of legalisation that is accounting for this rise. Social acceptability for the plant will result in greater use, but co-author Joseph Palamar thinks that “a lot of older people are hearing more and more about potential medical uses and many of these people are willing to try it out to see how it works.”.
Perceived health benefits of cannabis may also have played an important part in elderly consumers trying cannabis. If we look deeper at the data, senior diabetic patients and their use of cannabis increased by 180% between 2015 and 2018. Consumption also rose 96% among those with chronic illness and over 150% in those who receive mental health treatment.
As cannabis becomes more widely accepted, more research is conducted on potential health benefits. However, true clinical evidence is still in demand for suspicions to be confirmed. This is also why the authors of this study stress that people need to make sure that they educate themselves properly on what they are putting into their bodies.