Between 20 percent and one-third of older adults who consume CBD-dominant cannabis products for medical purposes reduce their use of prescription opioids and benzodiazepines, according to data published in the journal Drugs & Aging

A team of Canadian researchers assessed marijuana consumption patterns in a cohort of nearly 10,000 patients ages 65 and older over a six-year period. All of the study’s subjects possessed a valid prescription from a Canadian doctor to access medical cannabis products at a licensed retail dispensary. Medical marijuana products have been legal in Canada by prescription for several decades.

Subjects consumed either herbal cannabis flowers or oil extracts – with the majority of participants consuming extracts. Most subjects consumed products containing high percentages of CBD.

Consistent with prior studies, a portion of patients reported reducing their use of prescription medications following their initiation of cannabis products. Specifically, researchers reported that 36 percent of respondents decreased their use of opioids, while 20 percent reduced their use of benzodiazepines. 

Also similar to other studies, subjects frequently reported that the use of medical cannabis products was associated with reduced pain, better sleep, and improvements in mood. 

In recent years, self-reported marijuana use by seniors has increased dramatically in both the United States and Canada. Several surveys report that seniors’ use of cannabis products is associated with improvements in their overall quality of life.

Full text of the study, “Medical use among older adults in Canada: Self-reported data on types and amount used, and perceived effects,” appears in Drugs & Aging. Additional information is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Cannabis Use by Older Adult Populations.’

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