Is medical marijuana driving seniors to the ER?
The use of marijuana by senior citizens is on the rise, and it can have serious health consequences. A recent study conducted by the University of California San Diego revealed that cannabis-related emergency room visits for Californians over the age of 65 skyrocketed 1808% between 2005 and 2019.
Addiction expert Dr. Harry Straytner warns that senior citizens may be unaware of the potency of marijuana in 2023 - currently, levels of THC are three times higher than 25 years ago. Furthermore, because older individuals are more likely to be on medication for various other health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes, they should consult with a doctor before using cannabis products.
Dr. Nicolas Hernandez, an academic hospitalist at Glen Cove Hospital, explains that this is because, at a certain age, major organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart become more vulnerable to the impacts of marijuana use. Side effects can include dizziness, balance issues, disorientation, and anxiety. In extreme cases, it may lead to early signs of dementia.
The experts caution seniors to be aware of the risks and consult with a doctor before experimenting with marijuana products. As Dr. Strayner said, “Marijuana is a tricky drug. It really, really is.” With careful consideration, marijuana can offer beneficial medical advantages, however, senior citizens should be aware of the risks and proceed with caution.
Marijuana use among senior citizens is steadily increasing, and it's important to understand the potential consequences before experimenting. As marijuana becomes less socially taboo and more universally accepted, more and more people are going to consider the plant as an alternative to deadly and addictive opioids.
As always, consulting a doctor is key. Some treatments may not be for everybody. Some people may have to ingest medicinal cannabis in a variety of different forms to preserve the functions of their organs. As more research becomes available, it’s possible that marijuana will be seen as the healthiest alternative, despite having its own set of side effects.