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Cannabis 101 for seniors

Published Nov 11, 2022 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Anthony Metcalfe

Cannabis can do a world of good for both the young and old, and its benefits as a medicine during those golden years are now widely recognized as fact. As we age, we slow down, and the shenanigans we’ve gone through in our lives begin to catch up to us in the form of aches and pains. This is also when neurodegenerative conditions become most prevalent, and these things are almost impossible for many of us to avoid, which is why it's good to have access to a natural remedy that may help to reduce the severity of these, and many other symptoms.

The benefits of cannabis for seniors

Most know that the potent cannabinoid THC can be great for reducing pain, while CBD works to alleviate inflammation and hormonal imbalances that might contribute, but there are many more benefits for seniors who may want to utilize cannabis as a medication or complementary treatment.

  • Reduce the risk of side effects caused by prescription medication
  • Alleviate the symptoms caused by cancer treatments
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Slow down the progress of neurodegenerative diseases
  • Mood enhancer
  • Sleep better
  • Reach homeostasis (a state where the body is in perfect balance when it comes to produced and regulated chemicals and hormones)

Different types of cannabis products and methods of consumption

There are so many different types of cannabis products out there, and though many require inhalation which isn’t always ideal for seniors, in particular those with difficulty breathing, there is no shortage of alternatives for those that need something different.

Smoking

Consumers may enjoy cannabis flower and a wide variety of smokable cannabis
concentrates via a bong, pipe, joint, or blunt.

Dabbing

Some research indicates that dabbing may be a more effective method of delivery than smoking with equally fast-acting benefits. With a dab rig, enthusiasts may medicate with a wide variety of cannabis concentrates, such as shatter, wax, THC crystals, budder, hash, or oil.

Vaping

Vaping is believed to be the healthiest method of inhaling cannabinoids as the product never combusts, reducing the number of carcinogens produced.

Edibles

These fantastic cannabis products eliminate all of the health risks that are often associated with cannabis, only with a slower onset of effects that those achieved through inhalation. Because of the way cannabinoids are absorbed using this method, the benefits are also much longer-lasting and often more intense, and the best part is that they can be enjoyed in a variety of forms. Munch on some weed brownies, infuse your drinks or take advantage of the benefits of cannabis through a first-class infused meal. Alternatively, skip the full stomach, and swallow down a few capsules or some RSO oil for similar effects with fewer calories.

Topicals

There are two different types of topicals, those that penetrate the skin transferring into the bloodstream with a potential for experiencing stereotypical “high” effects, and then there are the ones that work by absorbing just into the skin, enough to deliver some relief without any of the buzz. This category includes great products such as creams, ointments, oils, suppositories, and more.

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Rules to follow

Cannabis is an incredibly safe choice for many seniors who would like to take advantage of its many wonderful benefits. However, there are still some rules to follow in order to stay safe and succeed.

1. Always ask your doctor first, especially if you’re on other prescription medications that might interact poorly with cannabinoids.

2. Start with the lowest dose possible to avoid the mind-altering effects and reduce the potential for a bad experience.

3. Never take your first dose alone. Topicals may be the one exception to this rule, as they are the least likely to produce undesirable results. Still, in most cases, especially when THC is involved, it’s best not to go through this experience without support, just in case something goes wrong.

4. Slowly increase dosing in small increments to significantly reduce the likelihood of a bad experience and to maintain control over tolerance. The more you take, the more you’re likely to need as time goes on, so this tip is critical if you need or want to stay within a budget.

5. Steer clear of cannabis products that might further exacerbate pre-existing health issues.

Why you might want to get a cannabis prescription

If you reside in a legal region, then it might seem like more hassle to jump through hoops to obtain a proper license for cannabis, but the truth is that there are often perks for those who do. Whether it’s official approval of your decision to make friends, family members, or coworkers more open to the idea, discounts from dispensaries, the ability to grow more plants, or in some areas, tax-free products, it can help many seniors who are willing to take this extra step.

How to get a cannabis prescription

In some regions, medical cannabis prescriptions are only provided through medical doctors, but if you can’t find a family physician who supports this journey, then there are sometimes alternative avenues such as cannabis clinics or mental health specialists. Usually, the process is relatively painless, though in some areas, it can cost to maintain this license, and you might be required to submit annual or biannual proof of a medical need for cannabis products.

Educational resources

Our guide to cannabis for seniors wouldn’t be complete without some added direction on how to find reliable resources because this endeavour can be difficult to navigate alone, and very few medical professionals have the knowledge to provide answers to even the simplest questions, such as recommending a dose. Luckily, there are a few choices, many of which can be explored from the comfort of your home:

  • Cannabis consultants
  • Cannabis educators
  • Medical cannabis courses (both online and in-person)
  • Published cannabis books (many of which may be found at your local library)
  • Our medical cannabis guide
Its time for an international medical cannabis system
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