Study Highlights Hazards of Elderly Marijuana Use

KTUL - January 18, 2023 5:23 pm

Marijuana use by the elderly is on the rise, and a new study suggests it’s also a growing danger.

Johnathan Thompson, a manager at Tulsa dispensary Green Cross Meds, sees more elderly customers than one might think.

“I’d say about 60% of our customers are elderly,” he estimated.

Medical marijuana has grown in popularity across the United States, but with any popular trend comes dangers.

A new study by researchers from U.C. San Diego found that from 2005 to 2019, marijuana-derived hospital visits by people over the age of 65 increased by a shocking 1,808%.

Older adults, the study explained, have a higher risk of experiencing negative side effects from cannabis. Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said they’re also used to a different type of cannabis.

“Retirement-aged people, they grew up in the 60’s and the 70’s and the 80’s, smoking ditch weed and stuff that had a very low percentage of THC,” he asserted.

“Modern-day genetically engineered marijuana has many times the potency of the products people may have thought were used by the hippies in the 60’s,” he continued. “I mean, it’s not the same product.”

Thomspon, though, said most of his older customers don’t smoke pot. They prefer edibles instead.

“Some of them probably don’t care much for the smell of the smoke,” he explained. “But they can also properly dose themselves with the edibles.”

Thompson said properly doing is key, as some people go to the emergency room after trying more than they can handle. However, “greening out,” as Thompson called it, can cause worse issues than paranoia or the occasional cardiovascular issue.

Since marijuana slows down reaction time, the study said its use leaves the elderly prone to falls and other injuries. But Thompson said there’s a reason older Oklahomans keep coming back for more.

“It seems to be helping them stay off more of their medicines so they’re not so zombified,” he said.

Sheriff Walton, though, sees the downsides. He said he’s seen far too many impaired drivers. He fears one person’s medication could end up hurting others.

“We’ve allowed a product here that impairs people and creates safety hazards to become commonplace,” he said, shaking his head.


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