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Medical Cannabis in the Elderly, Safety and Efficacy Study

Elderly marijuana patients

A recent study published by the European Journal of Internal Medicine found that the therapeutic use of cannabis is “safe and efficacious” in the elderly population. Researchers also concluded that marijuana may decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids.

Marijuana and the elderly: Study results

According to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center, medical marijuana can “significantly” reduce chronic pain in patients ages 65 and older without adverse effects.

The new study, published by The European Journal of Internal Medicine, found that elderly patients were able to safely use cannabis to treat cancer symptoms, Parkinson’s disease, post traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and a number of other medical conditions.

As Dr. Victor Novack, head of the Soroka Cannabis Clinical Research Institute, explains:

While older patients represent a large and growing population of medical cannabis users, few studies have addressed how it affects this particular group, which also suffers from dementia, frequent falls, mobility problems, and hearing and visual impairments.

After monitoring patients 65 and older for six months, we found medical cannabis treatment significantly relieves pain and improves quality of life for seniors with minimal side effects reported.

Research methods

BGU researchers surveyed 2,736 patients ages 65 years and older who used medical marijuana. More than 60% were prescribed medical cannabis due to pain, particularly pain associated with cancer. After six months of treatment, more than 93% of 901 respondents reported their pain dropped from a median of eight to four on a 10-point scale.

Close to 60% of patients who originally reported “bad” or “very bad” quality of life upgraded to “good” or “very good” after six months. More than 70% of patients surveyed reported moderate to significant improvement in their condition.

The most commonly reported adverse effects were dizziness (9.7%) and dry mouth (7.1%). After six months, more than 18% of patients surveyed had stopped using opioid analgesics or had reduced their dosage.

More than 33% of patients used cannabis-infused oil, approximately 24% inhaled therapy by smoking, and approximately 6% used vaporization.

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