When today’s seniors were young, marijuana was often seen as a part of youthful experimentation. Now, more seniors are embracing the use of medical marijuana to help with chronic pain, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. As medical marijuana for older adults becomes more commonplace, one study found that Medicare reimbursements for common prescription medications fell after more states, including New York, adopted medical marijuana laws.1
Before you start using medical marijuana, it’s important to understand its various benefits, how to use it, and how to comply with state laws.
What to Know About Medical Cannabis for Seniors in New York
Seniors in New York can qualify for medical marijuana use by having a certain life-threatening condition or a combination of more than one. The New York State Department of Health lists cancer, HIV, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and more on the list of conditions for medical marijuana use. In December 2016, the state added chronic pain to the list, an issue that plagues older adults.2
Geriatric marijuana use can have a positive impact on a variety of conditions, from cancer to Glaucoma to even eating disorders. However, the most promising use of medical marijuana is for chronic pain relief.3
Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Seniors
One of the biggest benefits of medical marijuana for seniors is increased appetite since eating disorders are prevalent throughout the aging population. Almost 80 percent of anorexia deaths are from senior citizens.4 Whether an individual loses their desire to eat or has an underlying psychological reason for not eating, medical marijuana is known to increase appetite.
Another big benefit of medical cannabis for seniors in New York is that it helps manage chronic pain. Rubs, creams, and even lotions with THC can improve areas of joint pain or arthritis. Seniors with neuropathic pain caused by nerve damage that occurs with diabetes, HIV, and chemotherapy can also find some relief with medical marijuana. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can even serve as a treatment option for severe epilepsy.5
Finally, another benefit of medical marijuana for older adults is that it can decrease dependence on prescription drugs. Seniors are prescribed more than a third of all prescription drugs in the country.4 Given the addictive nature of certain opioids, medical marijuana serves as a good alternative for those with chronic pain. In fact, the rate of opioid overdose deaths decreased in states that passed medical marijuana laws compared to those that did not.1
Start Geriatric Marijuana Use
Before beginning geriatric marijuana use, check out the laws in New York regarding its consumption. You must find a doctor who has a license to prescribe medical marijuana.
Talk to your practitioner about whether or not medical marijuana use is right for you to help manage chronic pain or a severe health condition, just like you would go over a pain management program after surgery.6 Then, you’ll need to go through the process of registering for a medical marijuana card and receiving your 30-day supply. Contact us today for more information about geriatric marijuana use.
1. Ingraham C. Aging Baby Boomers Increasingly Embrace Marijuana, Heavy Alcohol Use. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/18/aging-boomers-increasingly-embrace-marijuana-heavy-alcohol-use/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.608be782aab9. Published December 18, 2016. Accessed January 3, 2019.
2. Avery J. The Opioid Epidemic: An Update on Opiate Misuse and Current Strategies for the Healthcare Team. HSS. https://www.hss.edu/professional-conditions_opioid-epidemic-current-strategies-for-healthcare-team.asp. Published October 16, 2017. Accessed January 3, 2019.
3. Esposito L. Medical Marijuana for Older Adults. U.S. News and World Report. https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2018-03-16/medical-marijuana-for-older-adults. Published March 16, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.
4. The Complete Guide to Medical Marijuana for Seniors. National Council for Aging Care. https://www.aging.com/the-complete-guide-to-medical-marijuana-for-seniors/. Accessed January 3, 2019.
5. CBS News: First Cannabidiol for Severe Epilepsy Trial Yields Promising Results. NYU Langone Health. https://nyulangone.org/news/cbs-news-first-cannabidiol-severe-epilepsy-trial-yields-promising-results. Accessed January 3, 2019.
6. Preoperative Discussion of Pain Relief. AAOS. https://www.aaos.org/Quality/PainReliefToolkit/PreoperativeDiscussion/. Accessed January 3, 2019.