It is time to rethink the stereotype of associating increased use of marijuana with teens as more and more seniors are using the drug now than ever before.
The dispensaries in Tampa Bay have recorded an increase in the use of cannabis among older adult customers recently. The proportion of adults 65 or older who reported recent cannabis use spiked by 18 percent as per the 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health. The figure has increased from 5.1 percent in 2019 to 6 percent in 2020.
The spike in the use of marijuana is on the heels of a latest trend of increased cannabis use among seniors over the last five years.
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Older adults have admitted to using marijuana at some or other point in their lifetime. There has been a jump in the figure from 32 percent to 36 percent indicating a possible culture shift in older adults.
In Florida, people holding medical marijuana cards can legally purchase THC products throughout the state. Although renewing the card proves to be expensive, the procedure to obtain the card is really simple.
Many seniors believe that consuming cannabis takes away their reliance on prescription drugs. Those who don’t like taking heavy medications for migraines, backache, and any other ailments prefer using cannabis edibles which are in a way relaxing.
Seniors can be seen flocking at cannabis dispensaries in the Tampa Bay area on Sundays. Trulieve which is a cannabis company operating 19 dispensaries in the Tampa Bay area offers a 10 percent Senior Sunday discount to customers over the age of 55.
Though the company declined to provide data on the proportion of its clientele, a spokesperson for the company stated that seniors do constitute a major percentage of registered patients in Florida. The company has witnessed an upward trend in cannabis use among seniors.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the company offered monthly Silver Tours, which sent a cannabis advocate to long-term care facilities throughout the state including seven in Tampa Bay. More research is still needed on studying the impact of marijuana use on older adults.
Dr. Juan Sanchez- Ramos, a researcher, and professor of neurology at the University of South Florida said that various studies have shown that marijuana may help seniors in lowering symptoms like irritability and insomnia noted in Alzheimer’s patients, improve motor symptoms observed in Parkinson’s, and also lower arthritic pain and sleep disorders that are commonly noted in older adults.
Too high of a dose of THC can result in confusion and short-term memory issues. CBD in excess can also interact with the metabolism of other drugs in the system.
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Hence, seniors need to consult with their primary doctor before using cannabis products. THC is safe for seniors and would not result in disorientation or confusion when consumed in low doses.
However, Sanchez-Ramoz believes that THC consumption is safe when supervised by a physician. The researcher also believes that he still recommends the use of more traditional treatments before referring patients to a cannabis expert.
He further added that using cannabis compounds is an alternative form of treatment that individuals need to turn to when standard pharmaceuticals are not performing well for their condition.