The Comprehensive Guide to Medical Marijuana for Seniors
It doesn’t matter if you’re pro or anti marijuana, the reality is that legalization of medical marijuana is on the rise. Currently, 33 states have legalized some form of marijuana or the other. And the strict stance of the Federal laws is looking more and more ridiculous. The amazing therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana hold a lot of promise for virtually every age group. However, we won’t be exaggerating if we say that seniors could be the biggest winners here.
Millions of seniors are affected by many of the conditions medical marijuana is known to help with. News outlets like the Globe and Mail and the New York Times report that many seniors are trying out weed to help with their chronic pain. The use of medical marijuana is also on the rise among seniors suffering from Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, cancer, etc. The good thing is that many of these people attest to the effectiveness of medical marijuana.
If you are a senior and you’re suffering from any of the conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, you should book an appointment with a licensed medical marijuana doctor. But before you do, you might want to arm yourself with more information about the drug. This guide sheds the light on everything seniors need to know about medical marijuana.
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medicinenet.com defines medical marijuana as “a plant-based medicine from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica species with three major active compounds: Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabidiol, and Cannabinoids.” Medical marijuana comes from the same source as the weed available on the streets. However, the marijuana you would purchase in a licensed dispensary has to meet strict cultivation and processing standards. You can be sure you’re getting the pure and authentic stuff, unlike the samples on the streets that may be filled with harmful contaminants.
How do I Consume Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana comes in various dosage forms. Depending on your needs and preferences, you could opt for the dried flower buds, edibles, oil, or topical preparations. The diversity helps ensure there is something for everyone. You can follow this link if you want to know more about the best methods of using medical marijuana.
How does Medical Marijuana Work?
The cannabis plant is known to have more than 400 distinct chemical components, with THC and CBD being the most abundant. Many of these chemicals are thought to work synergistically in producing the amazing therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana.
The mechanism of action of medical marijuana in various disease states is hardly ever elucidated. However, the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating vital functions in the body is well documented. The cannabinoids in cannabis are thought to bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the body to produce the desirable medical benefits of marijuana. The psychoactive effects are also produced via a similar mechanism. THC is the compound responsible for most of these psychoactive effects although it also possesses some medicinal benefits.
How can Medical Marijuana Help Seniors?
The Federal authorities claim medical marijuana is still classified as Schedule 1 drug because there is a dearth of clinical trials that categorically prove its therapeutic efficacy. However, the experience of users is enough to tell you they are not totally honest with their claim. Here are some of the illnesses affecting older adults that can be treated with medical marijuana. All the assertions below have been proven by scientific research and/or evidence from clinical use.
One of the most common uses of medical cannabis is to help cancer patients. While there is no conclusive evidence that shows marijuana may help cure a particular type of cancer, the drug is known to reduce nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy. FDA-approved drug, Dronabinol is commonly prescribed for chemotherapy patients. The active ingredient in Dronabinol is a form of THC- one of the major constituents of cannabis. There are other synthetic cannabinoids that have been approved for the treatment of nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy.
Medical marijuana could also help with the neuropathic pain that is a common feature of the latter stages of virtually all types of cancers. The American Cancer Society agrees with the claim that medical marijuana could help cancer patients experiencing neuropathic pain or nausea and vomiting.
A lot of American seniors are affected by multiple sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease that is known to cause muscle spasticity. The stiffness in the muscles makes voluntary movement difficult and the patients often experience unbearable pain. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis in patients suffering from the disease. Asides the core symptoms, MS patients further experience insomnia, urinary incontinence, etc. as the disease progresses. Medical marijuana may also help with these.
Medical marijuana is approved for treating glaucoma in the state of Florida. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, accounting for about 10% of total blindness cases in the country. Predictably, adults that are 60 or older are the most affected. Medical marijuana is known to lower intraocular pressure, thereby preventing damage to the optic nerves in people suffering from glaucoma.
PD is a neurodegenerative disease that severely impairs voluntary movement as the disease progresses. About 1% of American seniors have PD and they experience symptoms such as slowness of movement, speech difficulties, and stiff, jerking movements that can’t be controlled. The mechanism of action of medical marijuana in PD has not been fully elucidated. However, there is convincing evidence that the drug has neuroprotective properties. Cannabis compounds also possess antioxidant effects that could help protect the neurons in the brain from oxidative damage.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
ALS is yet another neurodegenerative disease affecting the neurons that control voluntary movement. An estimated 6000 new cases of ALS are diagnosed every year and a significant percentage of people living with ALS are older adults. People suffering from ALS can also benefit greatly from the neuroprotective properties of medical marijuana.
If you or anyone you know has any of the diseases listed above, you may benefit greatly from trying out medical marijuana. This is especially true when the other options seem to be ineffective.
What are the Potential Side Effects of Medical Marijuana in Seniors?
The response to marijuana may vary from individual to individual. Asides individual differences, the response to marijuana could also depend on the strain of marijuana used and the quality of the preparation. These factors make it difficult to confidently predict the side effects you are likely to experience after using medical marijuana.
The side effects that appear common among the general population include increased hunger, a sense of ‘high’, lethargy, drowsiness, and a lift in your mood. Rest assured, most of these side effects disappear after a short time. You could even stop feeling them at all as your body learns to tolerate the drug.
Some users complain of impaired coordination, decision making, and memory. These side effects are thought to be dose-related. As long as you do not exceed the recommended dose, you should be just fine. As a general precaution, you should avoid tasks that require utmost concentration such as driving or operating moving machinery after taking medical marijuana.
Whatever side effects you’re experiencing after taking medical marijuana, you should trust that they would resolve in little to no time at all. Furthermore, cannabis overdose is not fatal. If your side effects become severe or protracted, please get in touch with your doctor.
How can I Legally Purchase Cannabis?
If you wish to start using medical marijuana, the first step is to book an appointment with a licensed medical marijuana doctor. The doctor would examine you and evaluate your case. If the doctor agrees you qualify for the treatment, a medical marijuana card would be processed for you. With a Florida medical marijuana card, you can legally purchase medical cannabis in any licensed dispensary in the state of Florida.