In the months following the legalization of cannabis in October 2018, it wasn’t the youth, or the long-time middle-aged consumers who were taking advantage of legal cannabis: it was senior citizens. It is estimated that approximately 400,000 seniors became first-time users in the first three months following legalization.
Overall, cannabis use amongst those 55 and older is less common, but despite this, it was this group that showed the greatest uptake of legal cannabis once it was given the green light by Health Canada and the law, with this demographic still leading reports of increased prevalence of use.
More than half of seniors (52%) report using cannabis for medical reasons, while the remaining of this age group indicated use was non-medical (recreational) only, or for both medical and recreational purposes.
Medical Cannabis for Baby Boomers and Seniors
According to the 2016 Statistics Canada Census, seniors make up 16.9% of the population, with that proportion expected to reach up to 25% by 2031. At this point, the number of older people will almost match the number of kids under 15 in the country.
As the population of seniors becomes more prevalent and their needs increase, more solutions for managing many parts of “the golden years” will need to be explored, including medical cannabis. People in their senior years use cannabis for various reasons, including for pain management, for its neuroprotective and antioxidant properties, and its potential to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression during difficult live transitions.
Common Uses for Cannabis for People 55+
Cannabis for Pain Management
The exact prevalence of seniors living with chronic pain in Canada is a difficult number to procure. The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) completed as part of Statistics Canada’s National Population Health Survey in 2005 (NPHS) showed that 27% of seniors (over 65) living in private households reported chronic pain, compared with 16% of people aged 18 to 64. The prevalence of chronic pain is increased by over 10% when seniors enter long-term care home facilities. According to this source, chronic pain in senior citizens outweighs diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, incontinence, cataracts, and suffering from the effects of stroke.
Research on pain management with medical cannabis centres around the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the naturally-occurring endocannabinoids within the body.
When pain is experienced, endocannabinoids and anandamide are produced in injured tissues. This process activates the CB receptors, suppressing sensitization, and inflammation. These are the same receptors activated by THC and other phyto (plant-based) cannabinoids. Anandamide mobilizes in response to inflammation and nerve injury and activates CB1 receptors, playing a prominent role in the modulation of pain. Additionally, certain cannabinoids, such as CBD, activate glycine receptors in the brain and spinal cord, decreasing errant pain signals to the brain.
Researchers are interested in how THC mimics anandamide and how it binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, helping to modulate pain.
Cannabis as a Neuroprotectant
Cannabis is being studied for its neuroprotectant properties, essentially examining whether cannabis can help reverse the aging process of the brain. Cannabinoids have been looked at as a neuroprotectant because of their ability to encourage the growth and development of new neurons after it experiencing trauma, essentially helping the brain heal itself.
The potential for treating symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases, Epilepsy, and Multiple Sclerosis are becoming more and more discussed within the medical community. Preliminary studies show that cannabis may reverse and rejuvenate cells damaged brain cells from these later-onset neurological conditions.
Cannabis as an Antioxidant
Cannabinoids, particularly CBD, are gaining more attention for their antioxidant properties that act with the body to prevent illnesses and battle diseases. Antioxidants inhibit oxidation or the chemical reaction that produces the free radicals within our bodies that eventually damage cells, leading to the development of illnesses and chronic diseases. Antioxidants neutralize oxidation right in the bloodstream, improving the health of cells.
The growing research body is linking the high consumption of antioxidants with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and arthritis. In this context, cannabis is a possible tool for preventative health maintenance.
Guidance Through Transitions
The golden years can be tough, and far from golden for many. Transitions in later years include loss of spouses, chronic illness, and changes of homes; as a result of these significant life transitions, anxiety and depression can become big risk factors for seniors.
CBD has been gaining notoriety for its potential in relieving the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Introducing CBD into the body helps increase the effectiveness of the serotonin receptors in the brain, which are the chemical processes many SSRIs and anti-depressant drugs try to replicate.
Exploring Medical Cannabis in the Golden Years
JC Green is a Health Canada-approved Licensed Producer that has emerged with a particular interest in working with senior citizens to discover the potential of medical cannabis. Through outreach events like visiting seniors homes, to providing compassionate pricing for seniors 60 and over, we are dedicated to ensuring seniors know their options.
JC Medicinal’s cannabis is grown under the care of Cultivaton Manager, Easton Klaudi, who takes great care and love into every single plant of the small-batch, hand-trimmed, cannabis for medical cannabis patients. Grown free of pesticides and potentially harmful irradiation practices, JC Medicinal’s medical cannabis is cultivated with full terpene preservation to maximize the potential of terpenes.
CBD-rich cultivars provide options for medical cannabis to explore the properties of CBD in harmony with other cannabinoids. Our offerings of strains include our high-THC potency sativa-dominant strain Cherry Bomb, and our indica-dominant hybrid French Macaron. Coming soon is our CBD flower CD1, which contains up to 10-14% CBD with high terpene content.
To access JC Medicinal’s products, we invite senior citizens and their caregivers to connect with our affiliate medical cannabis clinic Karthia. Patients are assessed online for free by a qualified practitioner to get their medical cannabis documentation. Patients are supported by Karthia’s Patient Services Team to ensure they can access high-quality cannabis online at affordable prices from JC Medicinal and other LPs right to their doorstep.
More information about Karthia can be found at https://karthia.ca/, and the clinic can be accessed directly by calling 1-833-222-6777, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. JC Medicinal’s superior quality products can be viewed at https://jcmedicinal.ca/products/.