Research Reveals Older Adults Think Doctors Are Judgmental About Cannabis Use


A new study, published in the Drugs & Aging journal, has found how older Americans make use of cannabis and what they experience. While some older adults in America use cannabis for pain management, others do so for anxiety, depression, and their mood.

For the purpose of this study, researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus focused on 17 groups in senior centers, cannabis dispensaries, and health clinics in 13 counties in Colorado spanning 136 people who were aged over 60. While some of these used cannabis others didn’t.

Five themes were noticed:

  1. There is a lack of research and education about cannabis
  2. There is lack of communication among providers when it comes to cannabis
  3. There is a lack of access to medical marijuana
  4. There is lack of info about the usage of cannabis
  5. People are reluctant to discuss cannabis use

Researchers also noted that people were in general reluctant to ask for red cards from their doctors. They instead preferred to pay for recreational cannabis. This shows that people are unable to communicate with healthcare providers when it comes to cannabis use; they feel self-conscious discussing the topic.

Participants mentioned that doctors were either unable or unwilling to provide a cannabis-use certificate. One respondent mentioned that his primary care physician was not ready to even discuss the side effects of cannabis use. People involved in the study mentioned that doctors needed to be more up to date with the latest research about the topic.

Older adults mentioned that cannabis use had helped them for pain, and they were also able to differentiate between use of cannabis for medical vs. use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Researchers said, “Although study participants discussed recreational cannabis more negatively than medical cannabis, they felt it was more comparable to drinking alcohol, often asserting a preference for recreational cannabis over the negative effects of alcohol.”

This study majorly found two things. Firstly, doctors need to be more open-minded when it comes to discussions about medical cannabis use. They need to be non-judgmental in their communication about the matter with patients and they also need to be more educated about cannabis use. Secondly, it found that older adults use medical marijuana in a variety of ways for medical purposes.

It also found that despite it being legal in most parts of Colorado, some people were still concerned about using cannabis due to the stigma attached to it. Another recent study which was presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia revealed that older adults used medical marijuana for a variety of reasons, and they took it in vaporized, capsule, or tincture form.

While several of the older adults experienced side effects from marijuana use, even more so experienced relief from the symptoms of their chronic conditions. This previous report confirmed that medical cannabis is well-tolerated in the older adults age group.


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