Grandma and Grandpa Are Getting Way Too Stoned – Doctors Issue Warning about Seniors and THC

May 15, 2023 ·

As there has been a rise in cases where seniors have consumed excessive amounts of cannabis, doctors caution seniors on the appropriate consumption methods. Consuming cannabis edibles, in particular, can lead to panic attacks if consumed without proper guidance, although the physical risks are typically minimal.

According to a report from KOMO News in Seattle, doctors aim to educate seniors on preventing panic and avoiding unnecessary emergency room trips. This can be achieved through simple education about the distinct effects of edibles, joints, and topicals.

Before consuming a high-THC product or an edible, it is the responsibility of the consumer to conduct proper research.

Dr. Lianne Hirano, from the Geriatrics department at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, made some comments. She informed KOMO News that various scenarios exist where individuals may end up in the emergency department due to a mixture of cannabis and medication or another product.

She states that today’s products are way more potent if you are a first-time user or someone accustomed to using products from the 60s and 70s. The body and metabolism may not be accustomed to such potency, which can be alarming.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, seniors used to lighter doses may be more susceptible to consuming excessive amounts of cannabis.

Medical Cannabis For Seniors

Seniors are experimenting with cannabis for medicinal purposes due to various reasons. For instance, some seniors use cannabis to aid with sleep. Researchers conducted a study using smartphones and actigraphy watches to record participants’ sleep patterns and found that, on average, cannabis helped seniors sleep an additional 30 minutes.

Several seniors believe that cannabis can assist in combating the effects of ageing. As per a study by researchers at the University of California San Diego, almost 80% of those who reported using cannabis for medicinal purposes stated that they were using it to treat common symptoms of ageing. The study’s findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society on October 7, 2020.

Today’s Cannabis Strains Are Different?

Christine Bryant, the Marketing Director at Hashtag Cannabis, characterized present-day cannabis to be more potent and “a different animal.”

The speaker explained that when using a topical product, you will not experience the intoxicating effects of THC. However, you will benefit from some of the anti-inflammatory effects that THC can provide for the skin barrier. However, oral products such as gummies or chocolate are different. It affects your entire system since it gets processed through your liver, leading to whole-body effects,” she explained.

If you consume excessive THC, one old remedy is to inhale black peppercorns, which can alleviate some, but not all, of the effects.

Studies have shown mixed results regarding the effects of cannabis use on seniors. In January of last year, researchers from the University of California San Diego published a study in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society. The study indicated that emergency room visits by individuals aged 65 and above who use cannabis have risen by 1,804% over the past 15 years.

A different study, also featured in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, noted a rise in cannabis use among seniors. The survey polled almost 600 individuals within the age range and found that 15% of respondents reported using marijuana products within the past three years.

To avoid panicked calls to the emergency room, those new to cannabis need to understand the correct titration process.

Nice, Straight Lineup

The study’s co-author and NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s associate professor of population health, Joseph Palamar, finds it intriguing that individuals who would never consider using an illicit drug are now seeking it out for medical purposes.

Dr. Benjamin Han, a co-author of the study, has observed that many of his older adult patients express interest in using cannabis to relieve symptoms associated with chronic illnesses.

Palamar and Han have published multiple papers in the last ten years, estimating the prevalence of marijuana use among older adults in the US. Their research method involves analyzing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is a nationally representative survey of 15,000 non-institutionalized individuals in the country.

The survey asked about using cannabis, pot, hashish, and hash oil through smoking or ingestion, but it did not inquire about using THC, CBD pills, or topicals.

The researchers found that in 2006, only 0.4% of people aged 65 and older reported using marijuana products within the past year. However, their recently published study revealed that by 2015, the number had doubled to 2.4%. Furthermore, by 2018, the number had doubled once again, with 4.2% of seniors over 65 using cannabis.

Palamar observed that marijuana use among seniors does not fluctuate like other drugs. It is increasing in a straight line.”

According to the study, cannabis use among seniors was most prevalent among women, those who were married,  racial or ethnic minorities,  had mental health concerns, were college-educated, and had incomes between $20,000 to $49,000 and $75,000 or more. Dr. Han noted that it seemed to be the older individuals in better health who were more likely to try cannabis.


More senior citizens are turning to cannabis for medical reasons, and this use trend is growing. Despite its rising popularity, elders should know the recommended dosage and possible side effects to prevent unfavourable outcomes. More research is required to properly comprehend the ramifications of cannabis usage among seniors, which have been demonstrated in studies to have both beneficial and negative impacts.

To investigate the possible advantages of this historic plant, seniors now have more options than ever, thanks to the legalization of cannabis in several states and the expansion of medical marijuana programs. A healthcare expert should be consulted before beginning any medical procedure to ensure safety and efficacy. (Full Story)

In category:Research
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