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Medical cannabis safe and effective in older adults – study

Cannabis was safe, well-tolerated, and associated with meaningful reductions in pain.



Medical cannabis safe and effective in older adults - study
Cannabis is becoming more popular among the older adult population

A new study has found medical cannabis to be a safe and effective treatment for chronic pain in older adults. 

In a paper published last month, researchers in Canada assessed the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis products in a group of patients aged 65 or older. 

All of the participants were authorised to consume cannabis medicinally through Canadian health clinics.

Consistent with other studies, the findings suggest that cannabis was safe, well-tolerated, and associated with meaningful reductions in pain, when used over a three-month period.

No serious adverse events were reported, and ‘non-serious’ adverse events were experienced in less than 12% of patients, the authors acknowledged. 

Cannabis and the older population 

Cannabis, and particularly CBD, is becoming more popular among the older adult population, with use increasing ten-fold in Canada between 2012 and 2019, according to the paper.

Previous surveys have suggested that this age group generally use cannabis for pain and sleep disorders, with positive results. 

Findings from the US National Cannabis Survey published last year show that 26% of cannabis consumers (nearly 17 million Americans) are aged 50 or older.

Most patients in the study reported no prior experience with cannabis. 

Oil was the preferred delivery method among patients, with the most commonly authorised product being CBD-dominant, followed by a balanced CBD to THC ratio. Only 4% of the sample group were consuming a THC-dominant oil.

The study’s authors concluded: “Our findings inform the under-explored area of medical cannabis use in this population and suggest that medical cannabis is associated with therapeutic effects on pain in older adults with an acceptable safety profile, but that there is significant variability in product profile and dose consumed.”

They added: “It will be important to continue to examine the long-term safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis in older adults through RWE studies and to examine cause and effect relations through RCTs across a variety of health conditions.”

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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