New study shows marijuana is both safe and effective for older patients

Published Apr 24, 2019 12:31 p.m. ET
Canadian Press, John Locher

Medical marijuana has been available for several years in some areas that have formerly accepted cannabis as a useful and efficient tool for patients who are managing symptoms like pain, chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions that cause a great deal of discomfort which hinders the person’s ability to function or have a fair quality of life. Despite prohibition lasting nearly 100 years, marijuana legalization and a few dedicated individuals have been able to show proof of the potential that the effects of marijuana may have on a variety of different medical conditions.

The concern

Unfortunately, shortly after marijuana legalization, there was a small flurry of incidents where individuals reported adverse effects from consuming THC in high quantities, mostly through THC edibles that were purchased from the black market and unregulated. This sparked a cry of concern since the majority of those who were negatively affected were mostly elderly individuals who were just trying to get a better night’s sleep or attempting to manage a painful condition. Medical marijuana may have the ability to quell some severe symptoms, but at what cost or risk?

The study

Cannabis researchers from the American Academy of Neurology conducted trials to measure both the safety and predictability of the effects of marijuana on elderly patients who were diagnosed with one of the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Neuropathy
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Multiple Sclerosis

According to the Center for Disease Control over 80% of adults over the age of 40 will have at least one chronic health condition, and the goal of this study was to focus on both the safety and efficacy of the effects of marijuana in patients over 40 who were diagnosed with one of the most common chronic medical conditions.  The study involved 205 participants with an average median age of 81 years old and proceeded over four months. During that time some patients were given a placebo, while others were provided doses of either THC or CBD and asked to report on any noticeable changes in symptoms.

The results

What these cannabis researchers found was that an even ratio of 1 to 1 of both CBD and THC had the most positive impact on patients symptoms, along with a long list of reported facts that are hard not to be impressed by with over 69% of participants showing an improvement in their symptoms to some degree or another.  Here are a few other neat statistics based off of this study.

  • 49% of patients showed an improvement in pain symptoms.
  • 18% of patients reported a better more solid sleep.
  • 15% experienced an improvement in neuropathy.
  • 10% felt a reduced amount of anxiety.

In conclusion

Though more research into the effects of marijuana is most definitely required to solidify these claims, there is no denying the improvement that cannabis was able to provide for the people involved with this study. By the end of the four months, patients who participated had managed a 32% reduction in opioids which are addictive and come with a host of adverse effects that can do more harm than good. If you are considering adding marijuana use to your treatment plan, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider that can be certain it won’t have any impact on the workings of other prescriptions or treatments being followed. This article is not meant as medical advice and is only to share relevant information on the latest and greatest medical marijuana research discoveries.

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