(ReclaimingAmerica.net) – Older Americans are increasingly seeking treatment in emergency rooms due to adverse side effects from using marijuana, new research conducted in California has found.
The University of California San Diego researched the issue after observing that many seniors had used marijuana products before ending up in the ER.
“While we did expect to see an increase, just given the increase in the use of cannabis by older adults, the sharp increase, especially from 2013 to 2016, did surprise us,” commented the study author, Dr. Benjamin Han, as cited by Breitbart.
Han is a geriatrician in the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care at the university’s School of Medicine.
The researchers’ data shows only 366 ER visits in 2005 by Californians over 65 after using cannabis. In 2019, that number shot up to 12,167, an increase of 1,808%.
Han warned that older patients who consume marijuana products might show symptoms such as “dizziness and falls, heart palpitations, panic attacks, confusion, anxiety or worsening of underlying lung diseases, such as asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
There are also rarer conditions, such as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, which includes “cyclic vomiting.”
The lead study author stressed that people over 65 consuming cannabis products were more likely to get adverse reactions because of their greater sensitivity and unfamiliarity with newer drug forms.
“Certainly, as we age, there are physiological changes that do make us more sensitive to any psychoactive substance, including cannabis or alcohol. But we do also see older people who are not familiar with cannabis and may unintentionally take more than they wanted to,” Han noted.
The report points out that a growing number of older Americas are using marijuana thanks to its widespread legalization by US states.
In California, medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 and recreational – since 2016.
Han pointed out that while older adults may use cannabis to treat “pain or arthritis, sleep problems, anxiety and depression,” in case of adverse effects, it may be “challenging to determine” whether the drug caused these.
“Cannabis can cause a range of potential adverse effects, but this is often difficult to determine ‘too much’ given the range of cannabinoids, dosing, ratios and routes of ingestion,” the researcher said.
“We also are still learning about potential harms of cannabis, including its potential negative impact on existing chronic diseases. Cannabis use disorder — or problematic use — is also a concern for people who use cannabis regularly,” he elaborated.
Dr. Leigh Vinocur from the American College of Emergency Physicians said there was a “lack of education” and standardization on using cannabis safely.
She noted seniors may remember cannabis from the 1960s, but today’s drug “is not the same.” It is also possible for marijuana to counteract other medications.
“Anything you take orally goes through your liver, and we have only so many enzymes at a time to break down what comes into the liver,” Vinocur said.
“If patients are under the guidance of a knowledgeable health care clinician, medical cannabis can be absolutely safe for patients,” she insisted.
New research out of California finds seniors are being treated in emergency rooms in significantly higher numbers for adverse side effects from cannabis consumption. https://t.co/y1mqDSbdCU
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) January 16, 2023