Older patients respond well to medical cannabis: study

Published on July 5, 2024 by Special to the oz.

Older patients report experiencing better health and well-being following their use of medical cannabis, according to data published in the journal Drugs & Aging.

British researchers assessed the use of cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) consisting of either flower or oil extracts in a cohort of patients ages 65 and older. (British specialists are permitted to prescribe cannabis products to patients unresponsive to conventional medications.) Study participants primarily suffered from chronic pain. Patients consumed cannabis products for three months.

Consistent with the findings of other observational studies, older patients reported “significant improvements” following cannabis use, including “substantial reductions” in pain severity.

The study’s authors concluded: “There were consistent improvements across measures of general health and well-being after three months of treatment. … These findings accord with a growing body of observational and real-world evidence from jurisdictions that have legalized medicinal cannabis that cannabis is effective for improving sleep, mood and quality of health across multiple primary conditions.”

Israeli data published in 2022 similarly reported quality-of-life improvements in medical cannabis patients. Among patients with post-traumatic stress, 91 percent reported that cannabis treatment was a success, as did 84 percent of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and 78 percent of patients with chronic pain.

According to statistics published in The Journals of Gerontology, more than one-third of those age 65 or older take five or more pharmaceuticals daily.

Full text of the study, “Prescribed medical cannabis use among older individuals: Patient characteristics and improvements in well-being: Findings from T21,” appears in Drugs & Aging. Additional information is available from the NORML Fact Sheet, ‘Cannabis Use by Older Populations.’