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  • D.H. Reilly

More Senior Citizens Using Medical Marijuana: Is North Carolina Next?

As long and frustrating as the wait for medical marijuana has been for all of us, perhaps no group stands to gain so much from finally being able to get a North Carolina Marijuana Card as older Americans. Age usually brings new and multiple qualifying conditions that people in most states can treat with cannabis, and yet our senior Tar Heels are missing out.

Fortunately, seniors in the thirty-six states with medical marijuana programs aren’t missing out, In fact, as a recent U.S. News and World Report article highlights, marijuana use is at an all-time high among older Americans, a fact that is sure to put even more pressure on North Carolina politicians to finally accept the inevitable and embrace the medical use of cannabis.

Older Americans Often Experience Qualifying Conditions

It makes sense that use among seniors would increase as medical marijuana programs spread, because their demographic is more likely to suffer from some qualifying conditions than people in other age groups.

As U.S. News and World Report puts it, “studies show marijuana may help reduce symptoms like insomnia and irritability in Alzheimer’s patients, improve motor symptoms from Parkinson’s, diminish arthritic pain and combat sleep disorders — conditions that are all common among older adults.”

It just makes sense that a group of people who are more likely than other groups to experience glaucoma, chronic pain, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s would also be likely to embrace a medicine that can safely and effectively treat those conditions and more.

But is Medical Marijuana Really Safe for Seniors?

Absolutely! When it’s used under a doctor’s care, that is.

As they are more likely to experience qualifying conditions, seniors’ healthcare can sometimes be trickier to maintain than it is for younger people. Seniors are not only more likely to experience a qualifying condition, but they’re also more likely to experience more than one qualifying condition at once. That often means increased intake of medicine, and the need to be extra vigilant when medicating. That’s why it is important for older Americans to work closely with their doctors to make sure they’re using medical marijuana safely.

University of South Florida neurology professor Dr. Juan Sanchez-Ramos stressed to U.S. News and World Report how important it was for older people to use marijuana only under a qualified doctor’s care.

“THC is safe for older people and won’t cause confusion or disorientation at modest and low doses,” he said. “But it should be definitely supervised by a physician. If your physician has no experiences with cannabinoids and your condition, I would try to find a medical cannabis expert who does.”

A physician’s care and guidance is one of the advantages of medical marijuana over cheaper street drugs. Sure, that street marijuana may cost less, but where did it come from, what exactly is in it, and how will it interact with your other medications? Who knows? But people with medical marijuana cards can rest assured that their medicine is pure and that they’re using it safely.

As the Stigma Surrounding Marijuana has Begun to Lessen, Senior Use has Begun to Rise

As the Harvard Health Publishing blog wrote in a 2020 post about increased marijuana use among older Americans, “Stigma is a complicated issue, but most would agree that the stigma associated with cannabis use is lessening, especially for medical cannabis.”

And seniors are among the people who are starting to figure out that medical marijuana has gotten a bad rap.

“It’s accepted now,” Marvin Yeoman, a Florida senior with chronic pain, told U.S. News and World Report about his use of medical marijuana. “You used to have to sneak in the back alley to purchase it, but now you can just walk right into the store and buy it, just like you would go to Publix or Winn-Dixie.”

“When I go to the dispensary, there are more elderly people in there than there are young people,” Yeoman said.

Need anymore evidence that older people are looking past the outdated stigmas that have hounded marijuana for decades? Well how about a statement from the AARP supporting the use of medical marijuana?

“The decision (to issue the statement) was based on the growing body of research suggesting marijuana may be helpful in treating certain medical conditions and symptoms,” the senior advocacy group wrote. Which brings us to yet another reason older Americans are using marijuana in larger and larger numbers: Medical marijuana works.

It’s No Wonder More Groups are Embracing It; Medical Marijuana Actually Works

Of course the most obvious explanation for why seniors and so many others are embracing medical marijuana is that it’s a safe, effective medication that gets results.

WebMD spoke with Joseph Palamar, a senior health researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, and found out that seniors aren’t using marijuana in record numbers in some attempt to recapture their free-loving 1960s days, but instead are using because it relieves their qualifying conditions.

“From what I see, I think a lot of older people are using weed more for medical reasons rather than recreational reasons," Palamar said. "I know someone in this age group who for never in a million years I thought would use marijuana. She eats a marijuana gummy every night to help her sleep, because she feels it helps better than anything else. I think this is becoming more common.”

Medical Marijuana Works Better and More Safely than Many Pharmaceuticals

Rene Yeoman, the wife of Marvin, the Floridian medical marijuana patient that we mentioned earlier, told U.S. News and World Report that she prefers medical marijuana over pharmaceuticals because it safely treats multiple conditions, allowing her to forgo prescription “drug cocktails.”

“I’ve been on just about everything, for either migraines or my back or whatever,” Rene Yeoman said. “We don’t like to take those heavy medications, of which you can become addicted, you know? With the edibles, you just kind of seem to just relax.”

Rene’s experience with medical marijuana has been backed up by science. Multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown that medical marijuana reduces the use of other, less safe medicine, such as opioids. And as seniors are often on multiple medications at once, one can see why medical marijuana might be especially appealing to them.

Older People May Be Using Medical Marijuana More than Ever, but It’s Good for All Demographics

And while more and more older Americans are using medical marijuana, it isn’t just beneficial to their age group. As Rene said, “It should be legal, really. It’ll cut out a lot of the big pharma money that’s going into producing drugs like opioids — and you’d take away the punishment for it, so you don’t have millions of people in jail for doing it.”

Ah, the wisdom of age. She really put it in a nutshell there, didn’t she? Medical marijuana can offer so many people safe and effective relief from their suffering, so shouldn’t everyone have access to it?

North Carolina Will Come Around Eventually, but You Can Get Ready for Medical Marijuana Right Now

We still believe that medical marijuana in North Carolina is inevitable, and while you still have to wait to get your North Carolina Marijuana Card, you can start getting ready for that day right now.

Reserve a medical marijuana evaluation online today with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as the Tar Heel State’s medical marijuana market is open for business.

You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. Together, you’ll discuss your condition and what medical marijuana could do for you. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-7320, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out North Carolina Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in North Carolina!

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