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Medical Cannabis Use and Its Impact on Health among Older Adults: Recent Research Findings and Future Directions

Kendall Robinson
University of Florida

Co-Authors: Hannah Fechtel1, Alexis Hartog1, Yan Wang1
1University of Florida

Purpose of Review
With the rapidly changing landscape of state level legalization of cannabis, older adults has become one of the fastest growing populations initiating medical cannabis (MC). However, research evidence on the risks and benefits of MC use in this population remains limited. This review aims to synthesize recent literature on the impacts of MC use in older adults and identify critical knowledge gaps to be addressed future research.

Recent Findings
While some adverse events were reported as associated with MC use, it is generally well tolerated in older adults. MC shows some potential as an alternative treatment for symptoms of dementia, pain, nausea and vomiting, and sleep. However, available evidence is inconsistent and tend to be rely on self-report and non-controlled studies. The great diversity of MC products and lack of standardized dosing guideline may contribute to the conflicting results. Additionally, there are financial and educational barriers associated with the access to MC which may contribute to disparity.

There is a need for more systematic and rigorous research on MC in older adults to determine its safety and efficacy. Research on dosing procedures and product characteristics as well as how these may impact health outcomes is crucial. More consistent evidence may lead to policy changes and better education to minimize potential risks and optimize benefits among older adults seeking MC as an alternative treatment.

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