A recent survey shows that medical marijuana is a big hit with seniors. Respondents who tried medical cannabis to deal with chronic pain reported a reduction in pain and a lesser need for opioid painkillers. In fact, 9 out of 10 seniors got so much relief from cannabis that they said they would recommend it to others.
One senior gushed:
“I was on Percocet and replaced it with medical marijuana. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Another patient commented:
“It [medical marijuana] is extremely effective and has allowed me to function in my work and life again. It has not completely taken away the pain, but allows me to manage.”
Study co-author Dr. Diana Martins-Welch, a physician in the division of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell Health, in Great Neck, N.Y., said:
“The impact of medical marijuana was overwhelmingly positive. Medical marijuana led them to taking less medications overall – opioids and non-opioids – and they had better function and better quality of life.”
The study findings were presented recently at the American Geriatrics Society meeting in Orlando, Florida. The results are considered preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Some Interesting Cannabis-Feedback from Seniors
Seniors complained primarily about the cost of medical marijuana. Because it is still illegal at the federal level, insurance companies will not pay for it.
When it came to unwanted side effects, drowsiness was the biggest complaint among respondents.
“A lot of people don’t like feeling sleepy.”
Of course anyone using medical marijuana find out the right dosage for their ailments, as taking too little or too much doesn’t ease pain. It’s important to find a happy medium.
“The goal with medicinal marijuana is to find the dose that gives a therapeutic benefit without a high, or slowing reaction time or causing sedation. To find that right dose, we start low and go slow.”
Dr. Mark Wallace, a board member of the American Pain Society, said that working with a doctor to find that right dose is important because there’s a “therapeutic window” with THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gets users high.
Using enough cannabis within that window relieves pain. Too little won’t work, but too much can make pain worse, according to Wallace.
About the Study
For the study, 150 seniors who had used medical marijuana for chronic pain were asked to complete a 20-question survey. The respondents had received their medical marijuana from dispensaries in New York or Minnesota.
About 45% of seniors said they vaped cannabis, while 28% took the drug in pill form.
Twenty-one percent said they used medical marijuana daily, while 23% reported using it twice a day. Another 39% said they used it more than twice a day.
Approximately half of the seniors who responded to the survey said medical marijuana had been recommended to them by a doctor, while 1/4 of seniors said they decided to try it at the urging of a friend or family member.
And to show just how effective this natural drug is, a whopping 91% of respondents said they would recommend medical marijuana to others.
When asked about how medical marijuana affected their pain levels, the seniors reported going from a 9 (on a pain scale of 0 to 10) down to 5.6 a month after starting treatment.
Wallace wasn’t surprised by the findings; he said he’s seen many improvements in his geriatric patients, thanks to medical marijuana.
“The geriatric population is my fastest-growing patient population. With medical marijuana, I’m taking more patients off opioids.”
Marijuana use among Americans aged 65 and older soared an incredible 250% between 2006 and 2013, according to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. 
A number of studies show that seniors are the fastest-growing population in America to give cannabis a try, and if the trend continues, seniors could overtake younger adults in terms of cannabis consumption.
“There’s never been a reported death from medical marijuana, yet there are 19,000 deaths a year from prescription opioids. Medical cannabis is probably safer than a lot of the drugs we give.” 
Medical marijuana can stimulate appetite – not a great thing if you’re already struggling with your weight – but in cancer patients, the effect can be a “godsend” Wallace said.