One of the most important benefits of canna-normalization is accessibility for people who can benefit from consumption. As someone who understands the benefits of cannabis, it can be easy to take for granted access to cannabis products and information.
Many of the conversations about normalization, legalization, and stigma-breaking take place on social media platforms. While we are seeing an increase in the percentage of U.S adults aged 65 and up, they still represent the smallest percentage of adults who use at least one social media site according to PEW.
Accessibility to cannabis information and products to the senior market is incredibly important because of the immense benefits that seniors can tap into through consumption.
Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia - Some patients suffering from Alzheimer's and Dementia have turned to cannabis for symptom relief ( mood stabilization, loss of appetite, aggression, and agitation). In 2019, researchers from King’s College London conducted a trial funded by Alzheimer’s Research U.K. The researches were testing Sativex, which has already been approved for some patients with multiple sclerosis, a mouth spray that has both THC and CBD ingredients.
Pain - According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, cannabis has been used for over 3,000 years for pain relief. Cannabis is being used more as an alternative to opiates, as it allows consumers to find relief via a safer natural alternative. There are links from marijuana legalization to fewer deaths due to opioid prescriptions, lowered cases of treatment for opioid addiction, less prescription of opioids, and lower levels of self-reported opioid misuse.
Mental Health - Cannabis products are also beneficial when it comes to mental health issues. CBD stimulates serotonin levels, similar to anti-anxiety medications, with a much lower risk of addiction than pharmaceutical alternatives. There is an increase in research to find potential canna-benefits for psychiatric disorders and conditions such as PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and beyond.
Glaucoma - Research findings from as early as the 1970s show that both marijuana and THC reduce intraocular pressure, a key contributor to Glaucoma. Cannabis can help relieve pressure from fluid build-up for hours at a time, and help alleviate discomfort and accompanying symptoms of later-stage Glaucoma.
Brain Function - This is newer territory, but in 2017 Researchers led by Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn in Germany gave low doses of THC, to young, mature, and aged mice. Without the drug, mature and aged mice performed worse on the tests than young ones did. But after the elderly animals were given THC, their performances improved to the point that they resembled those of young, untreated mice. This study is an exciting exploration into the possible cognitive benefits available through canna-consumption for seniors.
The promising news is that the numbers of American seniors over age 65 who now smoke marijuana or use edibles have doubled between 2015 and 2018, according to research published by JAMA. This trend appears to be continuous and steady. That being said, the senior market is one that is very impacted by canna-stigma. They are a community that grew up during a time of anti-cannabis propaganda and stigma-setting.
Because of a misunderstanding (amongst themselves or peers) of the effects or "consequences", along with a lack of access to accurate canna-information, accessing consumption tools or products can be overwhelming and startling, which can prevent people from this demographic from getting access to what could be life-changing benefits.
How do we bridge the accessibility gap for the senior market? There are many ways we can work to make sure this demographic has access to the tools and products they need to get the full benefits from canna-products.
Educate - Help break stigma in the senior community by sharing real facts. Introduce loved ones to the benefits of canna-consumption using scientific facts. Share examples of people breaking stigma to help showcase how productive and inspirational members of the canna-community can be. If you hear misinformation, help correct and guide through compassion. Keep an ear open for people who want to learn more and make yourself available whenever you have the opportunity to teach -- this can be lessons, demos, home workshops, talking, and beyond.
Advocate - Get involved in your senior community, get involved with institutions that are trying to work towards normalization, legalization, and education (i.e. Minorities for Medical Marijuana). This also can mean advocating for senior opportunities, which can mean employing seniors, incorporating them into canna-marketing, and beyond.
Integrate - Find ways to make canna-consumption more accessible in senior communities where possible. Discuss canna-consumption as an alternative to pharmaceuticals when possible, and recommend that seniors discuss this with their medical professionals. If you are caring for an elder, incorporate CBD topicals into their care routine. Discuss options about ways to integrate canna-products into a regular routine.
We are super excited by the opportunity of making cannabis more accessible to the senior market, a demographic which can benefit so much from its healing powers. We are inspired by the growth within this market, but there is still so much we can do!
Did we miss anything? What is your thought on seniors and canna-consumption? What are the ways you normalize within that segment?