Traditionally, weed has been a young person's pursuit with the highest number of cannabis consumers appearing in the 18 - 29 bracket. However, that statistic may well change in the coming years as elderly medical cannabis use increases across the globe.
In the USA, the over 55s is becoming the fastest growing cannabis demographic in the country according to CBS News and the biggest motivator is personal health. Getting old ain't a pretty picture, but until the secret of eternal youth is discovered it is one of life's unfortunate certainties...
Up until very recently, seniors have dutifully followed the advice of their doctors and introduced a handful of pills into their daily diet. Studies in the USA and the UK suggest that 45 - 50% of the over 65s take at least five prescription drugs a day for age related conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and relief from pain and chronic long term illness.
However, this dependency on multiple prescription drugs, known as polypharmacy, is starting to be questioned by doctors as well as patients. "You have people taking pills and then taking more pills to counter the side effects of the initial pills. It's crazy," confides a Canadian doctor. As the opioid crisis has shone a light on the abuse of prescription drugs, many seniors are now looking to medical cannabis as an alternative.
New Study into Elderly Medical Cannabis Use
As elderly medical cannabis use is a new phenomenon it has become the focus of a new study launched by Tilray Canada which aims to assess the impact of medical cannabis on chronic pain, sleep patterns, and the quality of life in patients over 50 years of age distributed throughout Canada. It will also study patterns of use, adverse effects and dosage.
Philippe Lucas, vice-president of global patient research and access at Tilray, told an audience at the International Policy Conference in Vienna in December that very little is known about elderly medical cannabis consumption patterns although there are certain characteristics that are unique to this age group. For example, many over 60s don't like smoking. This method of marijuana consumption makes the effect too strong prompting dizziness and disorientation. Falling over when you're in your 20s is no big deal. In your 60s it can mean a broken hip.
Over recent years, Paradise Seeds has seen a huge rise in the number of elderly medical cannabis customers buying seeds at expos. Conversations we have reflect this observation - with tinctures and cannabis in edible forms being more favored than the traditional smoking method. With recipes for turning cannabis matter into medical treatments and the rising costs of pharmaceutical drug, we are seeing more seniors turning to home growing to treat themselves and this trend is likely to continue as countries continue to develop an ageing population demographic.
CBD and Pain Relief
Two of the most common ailments affecting the older population are inflammation, arthritis and the aches and pains which come with old age and tired bodies. The cannabis compound CBD (the non-psychoactive element of the cannabis plant) is a natural remedy for these afflictions, with pharmacological properties with recognized anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Paradise Seeds has two existing CBD rich strains Nebula ll CBD and Durga Mata ll CBD and is introducing another four varieties in spring 2019.
The Peter Pan Elixir?!
Of course, there are other reasons to embrace weed in old age besides its medical benefits. We'll give the last word on the subject to octogenarian cannabis legend Tommy Chong, our collaborator on the Paradise Seeds Chong's Collection range. When we spoke to him just before his 80th birthday, he confessed: "I’ll be honest with you I still have the mentality of a teenager a lot of the time and I put this down to weed. It makes you open to new experiences and it keeps you young. It gives you a zest for life, it really does!"