There are some uses for cannabis that are obviously medical, such as relief from nausea from chemotherapy, but others that would seem to be obviously “recreational”, such as enjoying listening to music. But for Seniors, is that really so obvious?
According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Nearly nine in ten (89%) adults 65 and older report they are currently taking any prescription medicine. This compares to three-fourths of 50-64 year olds who report taking prescription drugs, half (51%) of 30-49 year olds, and four in ten (38%) 18-29 year olds. Older adults are also more likely than their younger counterparts to be taking multiple prescription medications. More than half of adults 65 and older (54%) report taking four or more prescription drugs compared to one-third of adults 50-64 years old (32%) and about one in ten adults 30-49 (13%) or 18-29 (7%).”
(Full disclosure: I am eighty and I do not take any prescription drugs.)
According to Healthline, the most common side effects experienced by people who use prescription antidepressants include: “digestive problems, including diarrhea, nausea, dry mouth, restlessness, headaches, insomnia or drowsiness, decreased sexual desire and difficulty reaching orgasm, erectile dysfunction, agitation (jitteriness).” Depressing?
And they don’t always work. According to Johns Hopkins, “If you feel like your antidepressant has stopped working, you’re not alone. It’s common for a medication that once worked wonders to become ineffective, especially if you’ve been taking it for a long time. Symptoms return for up to 33% of people using antidepressants — it’s called breakthrough depression.” Breakthrough??
So, if a Senior, or anyone with similar problems, is taking multiple prescriptions and they have multiple side effects, including depression, and/or they are not working, that is “medical”. But if someone uses cannabis to deal with these “side effects”, is that recreational?
A new study conducted at Haifa University’s School of Public Health reported that they have “found no evidence of cognitive decline in senior citizens who regularly smoke medical cannabis to treat chronic pain.
Chronic pain affects 19%-37% of the adult population worldwide and medical cannabis has, in recent years, been raised by patients and researchers alike as a “highly effective” possible treatment.
According to the researchers however, most studies done to date have mainly examined the effect of cannabis use on cognitive function in young people.
“Previous studies have shown that medical cannabis can have long-term effects on the brain when consumed at a young age, but this is not necessarily the same effect when consumed in old age,” said Dr. Sharon Sznitman and Dr. Galit Weinstein, two of the researchers who conducted the study.
Now, Compare and Contrast:
Prescription drugs may be absolutely necessary, but they have numerous side effects that certainly include adverse cognitive consequences. On the other hand, the Israeli study found that “Although the cannabis patients have been using it consistently for at least a year, we have not found that their cognitive function is lower than that of people similar to them in age and background diseases…”
See: If Studies Show Cannabis Is Effective In Treating Depression, & Improving Mental Health Then We Really, Really Need It
So, is there really a difference between medical and recreational cannabis? Perhaps, but the really important question is… Who gets to decide?
Now, speaking as a “Senior”, why should I, at eighty, have to go to a doctor to get permission to use a plant that the medical profession has ignored/outlawed/suppressed all of my life?
The late, great John Prine explained it best with an illegal smile:
“But fortunately I have the key to escape reality
And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
It don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while
Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone
No I’m just tryin’ to have me some fun”
- Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and founder of the Real Tested CBD Reviews.