The topic of seniors applying for a medical marijuana license is a controversial one, and this remains to be one of the most commonly asked questions among seniors experiencing chronic pain. Even with the growing acceptance of medical marijuana and the increased amount of research supporting it, many doctors, patients, and their family members are still wondering:
Is medical marijuana safe for senior citizens seeking an alternative treatment route for pain?
Whether it’s safe or not, the fact of the matter is that more and more elderly patients are turning to cannabis to alleviate their symptoms. Here we’ll cover all of the basics of cannabis use among the elderly, including the benefits, risks, and important safety precautions.
The Most Common Uses of Medical Cannabis for Pain
Extensive research conducted over the past few decades all points to the same conclusion – that medical cannabis therapy has the potential to significantly reduce pain among patients 65 and older. This is true for other age ranges as well, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on cannabis for seniors.
According to Safe Access Now on the topic of aging and cannabis, “thousands of studies published in peer-reviewed journals indicate cannabis has medical value in treating patients with such serious conditions as AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy, and chronic pain, as well as a variety of such neurological disorders as multiple sclerosis, Parkinsonism, and ALS.”
This is just a short list of the potential reasons to apply for a medical marijuana license, but it gives you an idea of why so many doctors are prescribing cannabis, and why so many older patients are listening.
Cannabis for Cancer-Related Pain
Cannabis is used for a variety of ailments, but the most common is without a doubt cancer. This is because the cannabinoids found in cannabis have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory properties that can help to alleviate many of the unpleasant symptoms of cancer.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy can especially benefit from using medicinal cannabis, particularly when it comes to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. It can also help with the mental symptoms experienced by many cancer patients, like grief, depression, and anxiety.
More recent research from the American Cancer Society is suggesting that cannabis for cancer can even “slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.”
Cannabis for Arthritis and Joint Pain
Another common use of the medical marijuana license for the treatment of pain in elderly patients is in relation to arthritis. Although it won’t serve as a cure for arthritis, it can at the very least help to reduce joint pain, discomfort, swelling. This is exactly what arthritis is – the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints – and research shows that cannabis can help.
While many cancer patients choose to ingest their medicine orally, patients experiencing arthritis more commonly use cannabis-infused topicals like balms, salves, and creams. Depending on the quality of the product, rubbing it into the skin can help to alleviate swelling, soreness, and even pain that is caused by arthritis.
Cannabis for Injury-Related Pain
The further we travel down the path of life, the more likely we are to experience an injury of some type along the way. This may be a work-related injury, an injury from sports, or maybe the grandkids are just a bit too rowdy sometimes.
Even if recovery from an injury is a speedy process, the pain and discomfort can linger – even for decades. Many older individuals choose to take pain medication every day to experience relief, but others decide to give cannabis a try as a more holistic alternative.
According to a Canadian medical marijuana licensing website, https://cannabisgrowingcanada.com/acmpr-license-grow-marijuana-canada/ one of the most common reasons to apply relates back to an injury.
Potential Risks of Cannabis Use for Seniors
We’ve covered a lot of potential benefits that you can experience for turning to cannabis as a pain treatment. Now it’s time to focus on the risks and safety precautions to be aware of. One important thing for seniors in particular to be aware of is the chance of cannabis interacting with other drugs.
When you ingest dried cannabis or a product infused with weed, there’s a chance that it may interact with the way that your other medications are metabolized. Take Coumadin as an example; adding cannabis into the mix for a patient taking Coumadin could enhance the blood-thinning effects of the drug, which could be potentially life-threatening.
Aside from interacting with your current medications, the other risks of using cannabis use are all very minor. Some older patients experience dizziness or lightheadedness, and another common side effect (for all age ranges) is anxiety or paranoia.
Referring back to the question of whether or not a medical marijuana license is a safe alternative for patients over 65 who are experiencing pain, the answer is yes. But no matter what, it’s vital to consult with a healthcare professional before turning to any new drug, cannabis included.
Updated: May 18, 2020