Marijuana Use in Older Adults: Need for Educational, Screening and Policy Interventions

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Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education

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The population of older adults in the United States is growing rapidly. It is estimated that by 2029, 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over 65 years of age (Colby & Ortman, 2014). Drug use is a growing concern in this population with marijuana being the most commonly used illicit drug among older adults (Lloyd & Striley, 2018). While the correct term for the drug is cannabis, the more common term of marijuana will be used in this editorial. The main active ingredients in marijuana are delta-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). In recent times, marijuana is being used for medical purposes and recreational use has also been legalized in some states. Medical marijuana has shown potential applicability in managing neuropathic pain, spasticity, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, anorexia especially associated with HIV/AIDS, insomnia (due to conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis), Tourette's syndrome, traumatic brain injury, social anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (Briscoe & Casarett, 2018). The older population suffers from many of these conditions and resort to medical marijuana either on the advice of their physician or on their own.


Older adults; Marijuana; Substance abuse


Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Substance Abuse and Addiction



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