Senior citizens are the largest group of users taking medical marijuana, and there’s no surprise why. Medical marijuana helps treat many of the illnesses of the old without the nasty side effects of current prescription medication. Medical marijuana is also legal in many states, including Florida. Also, retirees do not have to worry about failing drug tests for employment. These reasons make senior citizens more open to experimentation with marijuana for their symptoms.
If you’re a senior citizen, here’s what you need to know about medical marijuana to see if it might be right for you.
What Are They Using It For?
Pain relief is a common use for medical marijuana and senior citizens are no strangers to pain. There are creams and lotions infused with THC or CBD that help with pain relief. Unlike other methods of consumption, this usage doesn’t get you high. These topical treatments target the endocannabinoid receptors where the pain is located to cause relief. Marijuana creams are excellent at treating pain related to arthritis and nerve damage.
Using marijuana to deal with cancer pain is another reason. Chemotherapy comes with a range of devastating side effects, including nausea. It can be difficult to eat while on chemo and senior citizens often have trouble maintaining weight. Consuming marijuana can increase appetite and decrease nausea. This lets patients keep food down and maintain a healthy weight while they undergo chemotherapy. There are even FDA-approved pills for this usage, Marinol and Cesamet.
Even if an elderly person isn’t undergoing chemotherapy, many of them do not eat as much as they should. The elderly are the most likely to die due to anorexia. Medical marijuana increase appetite, so it could help save their life. It also has far fewer side effects than the usual treatments for eating disorders.
Anxiety and depression are also treated by marijuana, mostly in the form of CBD, one of the main cannabinoid chemicals found in marijuana. The drug stimulates serotonin receptors. It also helps with related conditions like PTSD and OCD. However, for some patients, marijuana can increase anxiety. More study is needed to find out why.
Another exciting thing about medical marijuana is that it could be a treatment for opioid addiction, one of the worst drug epidemics in the United States. While opioids are excellent at relieving pain, addiction is common and can lead to a cycle of dependence that ends in overdose and death. States with medical marijuana programs have reported a reduction in opioid-related problems.
Medical marijuana may even help with dementia. Mice studies have shown that marijuana helped improve the cognition of older mice, and medical cannabis also seems to target the plaques that cause Alzheimer’s Disease.
Finally, many seniors are using marijuana as a way to fall asleep that’s more effective and less addictive than sleeping pills.
Medication for the elderly is expensive. Over a third of the drugs prescribed in the United States go to senior citizens despite their small percentage of the population. That adds up to a lot of drug costs. Medical marijuana is often cheaper than many common prescriptions. The desire to save money is another reason why seniors are ready to give medical marijuana a try.
What Are The Risks?
With so many benefits, what are the downsides? Besides the mentioned anxiety in some users, there are two other risks. The first is legal. Depending on the state your access to particular products may be limited. In Florida, you first have to be examined by a doctor and approved by the Florida Medical Marijuana program before you can buy marijuana from a dispensary. The approval process also has to be renewed every few months. Our offices help everyone in Florida get the necessary examinations so they can use marijuana legally.
The second is that there are few guidelines for dosing and usage. It was illegal to study marijuana for decades. Use of the drug and anecdotal knowledge is outstripping the speed of studies on how well marijuana works for certain conditions, the effects of long-term usage, which compounds in cannabis are most effective for particular issues, and so forth.
It’s common for new users to experiment on their own to find out how much they need to take and which products work best for their symptoms. Given the popularity of the drug and our ability to tolerate a large dose, this seems to be a risk many people are willing to take.
Given the current legal situation in Florida, your doctor can help teach you how to take medical marijuana for your needs and how to dose yourself in a safe manner. The onset of a dose can vary depending on how you take it. For instance, edible forms take longer to work but hit with greater effect compared to vaping or drops.
What About CBD Products?
CBD is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana that’s seen a lot of popularity lately after the federal government took hemp off of the list of illegal drugs. Hemp and marijuana are related but not identical. These products are legal in Florida.
Depending on your symptoms, these products may help. However, you must do your research. Look for lab-tested products and ask providers where they source their hemp. There are currently no regulations regarding CBD products, so be aware that you are taking a risk. Nevertheless, like medical marijuana, CBD is well-tolerated in the human body. It would be very difficult to overdose.
The safest route for both medical marijuana and for CBD usage is to talk with a doctor first about them. The doctors at Dr. Green Relief have state training in medical marijuana diagnosis and treatment. We’ll be able to tell you if you qualify for the program and which products are best for your needs.