Why both the benefits and risks of cannabis are age-specific

Published Nov 17, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
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We always hear about the benefits of cannabis as if they are some kind of holy grail that works for virtually everyone who tries it. In a perfect world, that might be the case, but unfortunately, there are some risks of cannabis to consider. Not everyone has to be worried, but when it comes to consuming any substance, it pays to be cautious, and in the case of cannabis, the risks are more often than not, age-specific.

What this means is that people who fall within specific age ranges might benefit from additional guidance before they chose whether or not to travel down this all-natural therapeutic path. The trouble is that so few know what risk factors or potential for success indicators to look for, which is why today, we're going to answer some of the most critical questions about both age-specific risks and benefits.

Who is at risk?

Cannabis consumption isn't typically a dangerous choice, as it would require an impossible amount of time, effort, technology, and green to consume enough to cause any kind of damage to the average user. Most of the adverse effects of cannabinoids are short-lived and subside along with the high,  but for some, the consequences of this choice could be devastating.

Youth – Kids and cannabis are two words that you won't often find in the same sentence, as the taboo surrounding this controversial treatment still lingers, especially when there are children involved, but for a good reason. We know that exposure to THC can harm brain development in both children and infants in utero. Though the benefits of cannabis significantly help some kids, the majority are at risk if they consume it.

The elderly – Those who have been around long enough to watch prohibition spark into something magnificent are one of the fastest-growing parts of the cannabis market today. As a result, they are often a target audience for cannabis advertisers, but this portion of the population is the most at risk for a few different reasons. By a certain age, it is not uncommon to have medical conditions related to the heart or lungs or to be on medication to manage a life-threatening illness, and both of these things tend to make an individual more susceptible to the risks of cannabis.

Who is most likely to benefit?

You might be thinking that we just listed off most of the people who could benefit from cannabis, and that is true, which is precisely why this kind of treatment can get tricky. Those who face the highest chances of experiencing the adverse effects of cannabis are also often the most likely to reap the rewards. We've seen children with life-threatening epilepsy symptoms get relief, and many who've undergone cancer treatments, manage to control the side effects of both the illness and medicines used to eliminate it.

Is there an ideal age to reap the benefits of cannabis?

Almost anyone who is experiencing some form of discomfort in life could potentially benefit from the use of cannabis. Still, those who are best suited for the occasion do fit into a specific age range that is essentially anytime after the brain is fully developed and preferably sometime before any medical conditions arise that might require a pharmaceutical treatment to manage. There is no perfect age, according to the experts, but if we did have to put one on it, it's likely somewhere between 19 and 50.

How to know if cannabis is the right choice

If you've made it this far, and you or someone you know fits into one of the two categories of most at-risk people, then you might be wondering how you're supposed to tell the difference. A heart problem doesn't necessarily take cannabis therapy off the table, and even multiple prescribed medications might not be enough to disqualify you as someone who could benefit. Still, the reality is that only one person will know this for sure. That's your family doctor.

How to reduce the age-specific risks of cannabis

For those who are concerned about the potential risks of cannabis, we've got three essential rules that should be followed in their listed order.

1. Research

Before you do anything, it's an excellent idea to start with some research so that you can look at things like other people's personal experiences, known medication interactions, and which strains might work best for your particular issue. This will give you a good guideline and help to improve your confidence in the potential benefits of cannabis treatment.

2. Seek guidance from health professionals

The most important people to talk to if you're in one of the age groups mentioned here are your health experts and professionals, be that a family doctor or mental health specialist. If you're on a medication, then the focus should be on coordinating with the prescriber of said medicine so that they can monitor you throughout an experimental treatment and offer guidance or support if they don't feel that it's a safe option.

3. If you do try it, make sure to do so with low doses

If you want to avoid all of the potential adverse effects that can come from using cannabis, including those we've discussed today, and others such as overwhelming intensity, discomfort, or anxiety. Then you're going to be much better off starting with a low more moderate dose of cannabinoids. After all, more will always have a more enhanced effect, so start low and progress slowly so that you can get comfortable with the treatment.

No matter how old, young, healthy, or unmedicated you may be,  there is never a guarantee that cannabis will work to ease what ails you. Every individual is different, and it is essential to keep that in mind as you consider this potentially life-changing decision. Cannabis can do great things, but it works best when common sense is combined with guidance and taken with the utmost caution.

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