Cannabis and Older Persons Study

By all accounts, the intersection between America’s aging population and cannabis is growing and becoming more complex. The rate of past-year marijuana use among persons over 50 grew from 1.1 in 2000 to 2.8% in 2010, and already has surpassed projections for the year 2020. While much of this growth has been attributed to the more tolerant baby boom cohort entering old age, some evidence suggests the increasing use of marijuana among older persons is driven by period and age effects as well. On one hand, the expansion of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and state medical marijuana programs has been associated with increased use among older adults. On the other hand, persons over 65 increasingly acquire age-related health problems such as arthritis, cancer, and glaucoma, and are increasingly likely to experience chronic, persistent pain and other symptoms considered amendable to cannabis. While prior work has been illuminating, these efforts only provide glimpses into this imminent public health challenge.

There are several gaps in what we currently know about older persons and cannabis. What benefits do older adults experience in taking cannabis? Does taking cannabis lead to misuse of other substances or stopping the use of other prescription medications? Indeed, given how many age-related conditions and symptoms are thought to be amendable to medical marijuana, it might be expected that its use among older adults may increase as a substitute for legally prescribed medications. At the current time, we know of no formal effort to field a survey from a representative sample of older adults to collect this information.

Our over-all goal is to establish a research program that examines the intersection between America’s aging population and cannabis, a research program organized by the central hypothesis that individual outcomes (e.g., taking cannabis) are shaped by age (i.e., health needs), period (i.e., legalization) and cohort effects (e.g., more tolerant attitudes). 


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News Updates

Recent efforts by Dr. Kaskie and his team have determined that a small but significant proportion of caregivers are providing cannabis to persons with dementia as a possible treatment for agitation, sleep disturbances and other problematic secondary symptoms and using for themselves as way to relieve stress.
In this chapter, Dr. Kaskie and Dr. Sidhu account the recent trends in cannabis use among persons over 50 and consider trends specific to those over 65.  See the chapter featured here
The use of medical cannabis by those over the age of 60 is positively associated with self-reported improvements in subjects’ health-related quality of life (HRQL), according to data published in the journal Clinical Gerontologist.
Iowa plans to seek an official exemption from federal marijuana prohibition in an effort to resolve policy conflicts impeding its limited medical cannabis program. Read more here
The number of patients in Iowa’s medical marijuana program fell by one-third during the COVID-19 pandemic because patients couldn’t see their doctors or go to driver’s license stations to get cannabidiol registration cards, officials said.
The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Thursday that it had offered dispensary licenses to groups in Iowa City and Council Bluffs. The new shops would replace dispensaries in Davenport and Council Bluffs, which closed earlier this year.