Study: Medical Cannabis Use by Seniors Associated with Improved Quality of Life

Marijuana Patient

The use of medical cannabis by those over the age of 60 is positively associated with self-reported improvements in subjects’ health-related quality of life (HRQL), according to data published in the journal Clinical Gerontologist.

A team of researchers affiliated with the University of Illinois and the University of Iowa surveyed seniors regarding their use of medical cannabis and self-reported outcome changes over a one-year period.

Investigators reported a “strong positive association” between subjects’ frequency of cannabis use and self-reported improvements in pain, health-care utilization, and overall health-related quality of life. Participants failed to report any statistically significant association between medical cannabis use and adverse events.

They concluded: “[We] identified a strong positive association between higher frequency of cannabis use and improvement to HRQL and HCU [health-care utilization] scores. … Our regression modeling also identified a strong positive relationship between higher frequency of cannabis use and self-reported improvements to pain symptoms. The positive relationship between near-daily use and improved reports offers further evidence of the perceived value of medical cannabis as a therapeutic approach for pain management.”

Commenting on the study, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These results are hardly surprising. Many seniors likely experimented first-hand with cannabis during their youth and are now returning to it as a potential therapy to mitigate many of the health-related symptoms that come with older age, including chronic pain. Many seniors are well aware of the litany of serious adverse side-effects associated with available prescription drugs, like opioids, and they perceive medical cannabis to be a viable alternative.”

The study’s findings are similar to several others – such as those here, here, and here – finding that medical cannabis use by seniors is relatively safe and effective at mitigating pain and improving self-reported quality of life. Data published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2019 reports that rates of marijuana use is climbing among those ages 65 and older.

The abstract of the study, “Assessing health-related outcomes of medical cannabis use among older persons: Findings from Colorado and Illinois,” appears online here.