As the legalization of cannabis is becoming a nationwide trend, more researchers than ever are on the hunt to find significant study results supporting—or disproving—marijuana’s effects on medical conditions. A side effect of this surge in legalization and research interest is that there’s a new type of customer for cannabis: older adults. Stat News reports on this national trend after the legalization.
A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal reports that the of marijuana use among older adults has almost doubled from 2.4% to 4.2%. Another study from New York University School of Medicine found that specific groups of older adults are accounting for the increase: women, racial and ethnic minorities, those with diabetes, and those receiving mental health treatment. Now doctors and policy makers are interested in learning the reason older adults are turning to marijuana. Have they always used marijuana, or are they finding alternatives for their chronic ailments? Doctors wonder if they should begin screening older adults for substance use, a step that is not typically taken when an older adult comes to the doctor’s office.
As of now, scientific evidence on the benefits and risks of cannabis use is lacking and research on cannabis is still highly restrictive, partly because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. Researchers and experts call for a change to federal restrictions on cannabis studies, so that foundational empirical evidence can offer a better understanding of benefits and potential harms.
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Zia S. Cannabis use among older adults is on the rise, study says. STAT. https://www.statnews.com/2020/02/24/cannabis-use-among-older-adults-is-on-the-rise-study-says/. February 24, 2020. Accessed March 5, 2020.