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Why Are Growing Numbers of Seniors Turning to Medical Cannabis?

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Medical Cannabis

Statistics relating to the steady increase in medical cannabis consumption are no longer surprising. Since the states began decriminalizing medical cannabis more than twenty years ago, the actual number of users nationwide has continued to rise. Yet a new study out of the University of Iowa (UI) suggests increased cannabis consumption among the senior population. That has some researchers raising eyebrows.

Typically, seniors have been reluctant to embrace medical cannabis for the simple fact that they are accustomed to marijuana being illegal at the federal level. For most of their adult lives, this is the way it has been. They never even stop to think that cannabis might have legitimate medicinal benefits.

However, things are changing. The UI study seems to suggest that seniors have become disillusioned with Western medicine and are more willing than ever before to try alternative therapies. Medical cannabis fits the bill.

Medical Cannabis in Iowa

Iowa is among more than a dozen states that have given the green light to medical cannabis but still have not budged on recreational consumption. State residents wishing to use legal medical cannabis must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition and get permission from the state. However, cannabis products containing less than 0.3% THC can be legally purchased throughout the state, by anyone and for any reason.

As for the UI study, a researcher from the UI College of Public Health looked specifically at cannabis use among adults aged fifty and older. His data included people throughout the U.S. Here is what he found:

  • 6% use cannabis for medical reasons.
  • 80% have a positive view of medical cannabis.
  • Pain management is a common reason for using.
  • Cannabis is being used as an opioid alternative.

The research also indicates that older Americans have become disillusioned with Western medicine. They do not necessarily believe that traditional treatments are effective or that Western medicine is the only legitimate way to address disease and injury.

An Alternative Pain Treatment

The Daily Iowan recently published a story detailing the UI research along with local reactions to it. One of the people they interviewed, a 90-year-old former registered nurse, began using a topical CBD and THC ointment after falling and partially breaking her kneecap. She reported that the lotion gave her back her mobility overnight.

She went on to say that she gradually became “dubious about Western medicine” as she progressed in her career. She now reports being disillusioned with it “in the care of chronic diseases such as arthritis.”

The one thing is particular woman has in common with millions of other medical cannabis users his pain. Pain is the most often cited complaint among users with state-issued medical cannabis cards, according to the experts at Utahmarijuana.org. Most experience chronic pain as part of an underlying disease or condition. Others suffer from non-specific chronic pain.

There Are Other Ways

Data showing growing numbers of seniors turning to medical cannabis is not surprising. To me, the most intriguing aspect of the UI research is the disillusionment with Western medicine it points to. As someone who would be considered a senior under the UI research, I have become disillusioned myself. Western medicine has been terribly inadequate for my needs over the last 10-15 years.

There need to be other ways to treat disease and injury. Pulling out the prescription pad or recommending an invasive procedure cannot be all there is to medicine. Yet that’s what Western medicine purports. I am all in favor of alternatives. Even though I don’t use medical cannabis, I’m glad millions of people have access to it.

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