See, Grandma? Its fun!
See, Grandma? It's fun! manonallard/Getty Images
Many of us have a grandparent or elderly family member who, under doctors' orders, are taking more pharmaceuticals than they would like for chronic pain, side effects and all. But with more states allowing cannabis access through medical and recreational adult-use programs, some seniors are coming around to the idea that they might find the relief they're looking for with cannabis. A new study, although preliminary, gives researchers a better idea of sensimilla and seniors.

Researchers studied 204 medical cannabis patients in New York aged 75 and older to determine how they responded to cannabis to treat their symptoms and potentially reduce their dependence and use of opioids. Per the Chicago Tribune, the study was headed up by senior researcher Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, medical director of the Dent Neurologic Institute in Amherst, New York. Seventy-five percent of the participants were treated for chronic pain, along with cancer, neuropathy, MS, epilepsy, and Parkinson's. All were treated with products which contained both THC and CBD, which the majority receiving tinctures applied under the tongue by dropper.

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Nearly 70 percent of participants found relief from their conditions, the Tribune reports. "Half said their chronic pain diminished, 18 percent said they slept better, nerve pain improved in 15 percent, and anxiety was quelled in 10 percent." Some had unpleasant side effects. "Initially, 34 percent of patients experienced side effects from medical marijuana, most commonly sleepiness (13 percent), balance problems (7 percent) and gastrointestinal issues (7 percent). After adjustments in dose, only 21 percent continued to have side effects. Ultimately, 3 percent of participants stopped taking medical marijuana due to side effects."

The study's greatest success for all conditions was a dosage introduced in a one-to-one ratio of THC and CBD. CBD products that are available nationwide—such as those now available at certain CVS stores—may not contain more than 0.3 percent THC, unless sold in a state with a medical or adult-use cannabis program.

Metzler spoke to the benefits of giving seniors the options to use cannabis in place of opioids: "Nobody overdoses on medical marijuana." He also addressed the fact that through the existing medical cannabis program in New York, it's not cheap right now to obtain your canna meds through the dispensary system. Seniors reported paying between $125 and $500 per month for their cannabis products out of pocket, underscoring that dispensary trips aren't covered or reimbursed the same way that pharmacy trips are.