Older Americans Are Flocking to Medical Marijuana
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Older Americans Are Flocking to Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on December 07, 2018 at 17:41:24 PT
By Paula Span
Source: New York Times 
USA -- Shari Horne broke her toes a decade ago, and after surgery, “I have plates and pins and screws in my feet, and they get achy at times,” she said. So Ms. Horne, 66, applies a salve containing cannabidiol, derived from the cannabis, or marijuana, plant. It eases the pain.The salve didn’t help when she developed bursitis in her shoulder, but a tincture of cannabidiol mixed with T.H.C., the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, provided relief.
Using a pipe, she also smokes “a few hits” of a cannabis brand called Blue Dream after dinner, because “I think relaxing is healthy for you.”Many of her neighbors in Laguna Woods, Calif., a community of mostly older adults in Orange County, where she serves on the City Council, have developed similar routines.“People in their 80s and 90s, even retired Air Force colonels, are finding such relief” with cannabis, said Ms. Horne. “Almost everybody I know is using it in one form or another” — including her husband Hal, 68, a retired insurance broker, who says it helps him sleep.In fact, so many Laguna Woods seniors use medical cannabis — for ailments ranging from arthritis and diabetes nerve pain to back injuries and insomnia — that the local dispensary, Bud and Bloom, charters a free bus to bring residents to its Santa Ana location to stock up on supplies. Along with a catered lunch, the bus riders get a seniors discount.Physicians who treat older adults expect their cannabis use to increase as the number of states legalizing medical marijuana keeps growing.After the midterm elections, when Utah and Missouri voters approved medical use, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, along with ten states that also have legalized recreational use.Though the federal government still outlaws cannabis, classified as a Schedule I drug along with heroin (meaning that it has no therapeutic value), public support has swung sharply in favor of legalization, polls have found.That support may rise as the baby boomers, often no strangers to marijuana, succeed their more leery parents as the oldest cohort. People aged 50 to 64 are more likely to report recent marijuana use than their elders.“You might not like it,” Dr. David Casarett, chief of palliative care at Duke University Medical Center, tells fellow physicians. “You might not believe in it. But your patients are using this stuff.”He and Dr. Joshua Briscoe, a psychiatrist at Duke also trained in palliative care, have mixed feelings about that.Co-authors of a recent article on medical marijuana and older adults in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, they support legalization for medical use. They hope the federal government will reclassify cannabis (“a huge undertaking,” Dr. Briscoe admitted), reducing obstacles to much-needed research.“We’re always searching for a better medication that can treat pain and a host of other symptoms without burdensome side effects, and cannabis is promising” as a treatment for a number of conditions, Dr. Briscoe said.Their overview — along with a major report last year from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — points out disorders for which cannabis does appear to have therapeutic effects.But the researchers are uneasy about the fact that older people essentially are undertaking self-treatment, with scant guidance from medical professionals.Cannabis consumers face a confusing array of options, including various strains and brands and many methods of ingestion: smoking, vaping, tinctures, edibles, topical creams or patches. Users can also experience potentially harmful side effects.When Joy Kavianian, 55, a Laguna Woods resident with Parkinson’s disease, wanted to reduce her right-side tremors so that she could continue making ceramics, a cherished pursuit, she had lots of questions about cannabis.“I didn’t know how this would mix with my other meds,” she said. “How would it affect my sleep? The only answer was to slowly introduce it and see.”She has learned that a tincture, placed under her tongue about 40 minutes before she heads to the art studio, gives her four hours in which to work effectively. But that discovery took weeks of trial and error.“The social support and legislation is outpacing the research,” Dr. Briscoe said. “If I want to say, ‘Take this dose for this condition and that dose for that one’ — the evidence just isn’t there.”For older people, what does the still-limited evidence show?The strongest case, Dr. Casarett said, is that cannabis can reduce neuropathic pain, sometimes caused by diabetes, shingles or chemotherapy, without the toxic effects of opioids.Studies have also shown that cannabis alleviates the nausea and vomiting that often follows chemotherapy. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two synthetic T.H.C. drugs for that purpose, though some patients insist that smoking the real thing works better.Cannabis appears to relieve muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis, though that research is less extensive, and to improve appetite for patients with cancer or AIDS, Dr. Briscoe said.“Plenty of patients swear it’s the only thing that helps them sleep,” he added. But while drowsiness often accompanies cannabis use, the evidence that it reliably improves sleep remains modest. Its effects on anxiety and depression are also unclear.And like any drug, cannabis has side effects, some of particular concern for older users, who metabolize medications differently from younger adults.Dizziness, for instance, can lead to injurious falls. Marijuana use is also associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, so Dr. Casarett and Dr. Briscoe advise counseling older patients not to drive for six to nine hours after use, depending on ingestion method.Moreover, “the jury is very much out about long-term cognitive effects in adults,” Dr. Casarett said. But there’s no evidence that medical marijuana users are at increased risk of abusing the drug.Y. Tony Yang, a health services and policy researcher at George Washington University, recently predicted in a JAMA Neurology editorial that a June decision by the F.D.A. will have far-reaching consequences.The agency approved Epidiolex, the first C.B.D. prescription drug to be legally sold in the United States, for reducing seizures in rare adolescent forms of epilepsy.“A doctor can now prescribe this off-label for other uses, which is legal and common,” Dr. Yang said. “And on the research side, this could pave the way for controlled clinical trials for other purposes.”Insurers may balk at covering off-label use, he conceded. Medicare, for instance, doesn’t cover medical cannabis, and it won’t cover drugs used off-label. The bus riders from Laguna Woods often pay $100 to $200 a month out of pocket for cannabis products, a financial struggle for some.But riders like Catherine McCormick, who’s 53, find it a worthwhile expenditure. To lessen pain after knee replacement surgery, she was relying on high doses of ibuprofen, “too much wine” and several prescription drugs, including oxycodone, benzodiazepines and an antidepressant.She weaned herself from them all in a few months, she said, by smoking cannabis. That’s made her a believer.“I have more energy. I can walk,” she said. “I’m not in pain. I feel so much better.”Correction: December 7, 2018An earlier version this article incorrectly described cocaine as a Schedule I drug. In fact, it is a Schedule II drug.Source: New York Times (NY) Author:   Paula SpanPublished: December 7, 2018Copyright: 2018 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #16 posted by John Tyler on December 16, 2018 at 18:47:19 PT
cannabis store designs
I have been looking at design places that do cannabis store designs and they all kind a look like a cross between a jewelry store and an upscale computer store in a sterile way. They look nice and all and I am sure they all get the job done, but they don’t look very mellow. I thought they would look more mellow and groovy. Cannabis stores haven’t made it to the East Coast so I have not had the opportunity to check them out personally. So this is my uninformed observation. What do the more advantaged shoppers think?...High tech designs to detach themselves from the counterculture past, or mellow and groovy designs to show their link to the past, or somewhere in between.
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Comment #15 posted by Sam Adams on December 15, 2018 at 08:20:34 PT
Seth Moulton
Here is a GOOD Congressman: says Salem's pot sales make sense
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Comment #14 posted by John Tyler on December 14, 2018 at 13:18:09 PT
a little past the tipping point now
Once the tipping point is past, progress seems to happening a little bit faster, but it was “heavy lifting” for the last 81 years to get this far and there is still a lot to do. Once the politicians, etc. could get over the Drug War lies and their racism and thought more about the money, money, money, excuse me, the enhanced revenue their state or locality could be using for many, many, worthwhile purposes, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. It is going to be a money maker. Hemp for fiber, fuel, and food now, and hopefully not much later cousin cannabis for the mind and spirit. Like identical cousins, with different personalities. Keep your mind on the prize. The Promised Land is just a head. (pun intended.)Large sections of the country had extensive hemp growing operations, before it was banned in 1937. Tobacco farmers and other farmers could easily switch back to hemp again. It could revitalize rural areas. The Altria tobacco company is positioning itself to be a “big player” in this.
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Comment #13 posted by Sam Adams on December 14, 2018 at 07:58:29 PT
Sessions will obey Mcconnell and Ryan like an obedient dog! :-)
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on December 13, 2018 at 18:14:20 PT
Things are pretty quiet today about this vote.
I was surprised to see Pete Sessions voted for the Farm Bill. Very surprised. I figured since hemp was a part of it that he would, for sure, vote against it. Very odd. 
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on December 12, 2018 at 22:17:08 PT
Cyber High-Five to ya, Sam!
This is such good news. I know the President still has to sign it. I think he will... sooner or later. There are predictions he may hold the Farm Bill hostage to get what he wants in other areas... but I hope not. I hope he signs it in the morning. Tomorrow will be interesting.
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on December 12, 2018 at 21:51:56 PT
Hemp legal 
this is a huge milestone! I predict it's the beginning of a busy 12 months in Congress for cannabis - we'll see progress on some of the other bills next year. I think it's pretty cool that hemp is basically cannabis with THC below .3% - but you can have all the other cannabinoids and terpenes. Big green resinous buds will be legal, cannabis in every way except low THC. I think there is some psychoactivity to this type of herb. 
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on December 12, 2018 at 21:44:06 PT
Hemp easier to grow, I think, than tobacco.
Tobacco farmers already switching to hemp, may look at cannabis
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on December 12, 2018 at 20:13:24 PT
I'm so happy.
Hemp Legalized, Increase In SNAP Work Requirements Out And Other Highlights From The Farm Bill
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on December 12, 2018 at 19:32:18 PT
It's good. A step forward. A big step.
Congress just voted to legalize hemp
The bill won’t legalize marijuana for recreational or medical uses, but allows non-psychoactive forms of cannabis.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on December 12, 2018 at 19:26:38 PT
Hemp Is Finally Legal. Let’s See if It Can Save the World
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on December 11, 2018 at 10:18:45 PT
Good one
Why are so many countries now saying cannabis is OK?
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Comment #4 posted by afterburner on December 11, 2018 at 09:08:50 PT
I Just Finished a Second Day Reading the Following
Enjoy this fascinating history, showing how our still present global prohibitionist laws were adopted and used as social control against other religious practices.Hashish and other psychoactive substances in the Islamic World
By Chris Bennett	on November 22, 2018
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Comment #3 posted by John Tyler on December 09, 2018 at 07:59:16 PT
In fairness to doctors, they have a lot of people looking over their shoulders with regard to cannabis treatment, there are the local standards of care, local medical review boards, state medical review boards, hospital admitting privileges, malpractice insurance, and, patient health insurance rules and regs, and DEA prescription writing privileges. That is a lot to contend with, so I imagine that they will be cautious until they get approval up and down the review process.
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on December 08, 2018 at 07:27:29 PT
senior set
Cannabis, what is not to like? Maybe, the high price? Other than that it seems to be popular with the older set. They realize that it is good for the body, mind, and spirit. It eases one’s pain, lightens one’s burden, and brings joy to one’s heart. When friends use cannabis together they can achieve true happiness. Maybe they could have afternoon tea parties with cannabis, tea, pastries with music and guided meditative chants. Why not, when you are retired, every day is Saturday, they say.The doctor response is disappointing. They don’t know anything about it. Why not? They are smart. They can read up on the subject. They can go to seminars, etc. They can make it a point to find out about it.
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Comment #1 posted by Soup Herb on December 08, 2018 at 05:05:32 PT:
We use it...
Enough said, right? Well, we use it on a regular basis and there are millions of us all over the world. We do not fear the feds and have a remedy to the ills of life. There is a very good reason that cannabis was in everone's medical cabinet before the 1920' works, studies be damned, it works. It was the worlds aspirin for about 10,000 years until greed and politics took the useful plant away from the people.
Just like our eroding rights I might insist...go figure.
The obstructionists and prohibitionists are the problem and they grow out of nowhere like disease itself.
Driving? F'ing studies show people who have used cannabis are tested to be better drivers than most of the driving public!!!!!!
The article is too vague and all over the place...mostly lies. Just propaganda to me...
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