A recent report on medical marijuana use in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal, showed that 25% of users are between 51 and 81 years old, and when those aged 41 and over are included, the number jumps to over 50%. This isn’t surprising considering that seniors are most at risk for developing the illnesses that medical marijuana treats.
Medical marijuana can benefit seniors and others who are suffering from serious illnesses. And, as more states move towards legalization, the potential stigmas associated with its use by seniors are fading.
How Does Medical Marijuana Help Seniors?
The human body manufactures its own cannabinoids. They attach to specialized cells to improve mood as well as reduce pain and inflammation. However, when the system is not working like it should because of illness, these cannabinoids are not produced. By chance, the cannabinoids in medical marijuana attach to these specialized cells just like the cannabinoids made by the body. As a result medical marijuana can help the body overcome the negative moods and reduce pain caused by certain illnesses.
What Illnesses Does Medical Marijuana Treat?
Medical marijuana has been proven to treat a variety of illnesses both rare and common. In states where it is legal, the illnesses for which it can be used are usually defined by law, though many states have wording in the laws that allow its use for other conditions when recommended by a physician. In California and other states where medical marijuana is legal, it can be used by patients suffering from:
- AIDS / HIV
- multiple sclerosis
- chronic pain
- muscle cramps
- and many other serious illnesses and medical conditions.
How Is Medical Marijuana Different from Standard Medication?
In many cases, the symptoms that medical marijuana relieves cannot be effectively treated by standard medicine. Consider chronic back pain as an example. Back problems are extremely painful, but doctors often cannot pinpoint an exact cause for the pain, meaning that the cause cannot be treated. Instead, the symptom (pain) is treated with medications that can be ineffective, or become less effective with time. In addition, standard pain medications often have very serious side effects, including:
- slowed breathing
- high risk of addiction
While there are side effects associated with medical marijuana, in most patients, it does not have the serious side effects of standard pain medication. Patients who want to use standard medication in lower doses or who want to reduce their reliance on standard medication may be able to use medical marijuana in conjunction with other treatments and should discuss this option with their doctor.
Using a Caregiver for Medical Marijuana
One of the most common concerns for seniors who want to use medical marijuana is the worry over what others might think. In most cases, there is no reason for anyone other than their doctor and/or caregiver to know. In states where its use is legal, seniors who do not want to grow marijuana themselves or find a place to buy marijuana or marijuana medicinal products can usually appoint a medical marijuana caregiver to do so for them. This lessens the burden on seniors while allowing them to obtain relief from pain and other debilitating or chronic symptoms.
Seniors who are interested in medical marijuana to treat their symptoms should investigate their options. Remember, although marijuana is legal in California and other states, it remains illegal at the federal level. If you live outside California, please check with local authorities to verify how the information provided by Doobons applies to your specific situation.
Feel free to comment below or contact Doobons directly with any questions or to find local resources in your area or online medical marijuana resources.