Cape Breton Post

Cannabis and older adults

Free booklet helping older Canadians make wise decisions on cannabis use


Scientific evidence is limited on cannabis and its effects on aging, however, older adults who use medical cannabis report benefits like a better quality of life, improved sleep, pain relief and a heartier appetite.

“Cannabis use by adults 65 years and older is increasing faster than any other age group. In Canada in 2019, 6.6 per cent of older adults reported using cannabis — up from just one per cent in 2012,” explains Patricia Clark, National Executive Director of Active Aging Canada. “People still have a lot of questions because it’s only been legal since 2018. We wanted to provide the evidence of the day with what we know so far.”

Active Aging Canada conducted numerous focus groups and online surveys to determine what informatio­n older adults wanted to know about cannabis and worked

with leading experts to put together Be Wise — a colourful 55-page

booklet written specifical­ly for older Canadians to help them understand the facts about cannabis.

“There’s enough research in some areas that we know there are therapeuti­c benefits for certain conditions, like chronic pain in palliative care, nausea and vomiting caused by chemothera­py, and muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury,” says Clark.

Be Wise is available to anyone who would like to receive it, either via a free online download or a free mailed copy. The booklet describes age-specific informatio­n about cannabis, why and how it’s used, and what the research says about using it to treat health conditions. Clear and easy to read, it’s broken down into the following sections:

OLDER CANADIANS AND CANNABIS USE: Cannabis use by older adults is increasing. Some want to see if it helps with the effects of aging and chronic disease.


Cannabis is any product that comes from the cannabis plant. The active compounds are THC and CBD. Each compound is used for different therapeuti­c purposes. Cannabis products come in many different forms. The intensity of THC and CBD varies. It depends on what the product is used for.

CANNABIS AND THE LAW: Both medical and recreation­al cannabis are legal in Canada. Federal law limits how much you can possess, share, or grow. You can only buy it from licensed distributo­rs. Each province and territory also has its own rules for cannabis.

THERAPEUTI­C BENEFITS: Older adults report using cannabis, either through their doctor or on their own, for problems such as pain, anxiety, depression and poor sleep. Some use it as an alternativ­e to a prescripti­on drug. Right now, the scientific evidence to support many of the therapeuti­c claims is limited.

CANNABIS SIDE EFFECTS AND RISK: Products high in THC can include dry mouth, drowsiness, and impaired balance. Cannabis risks include overconsum­ption, driving under the influence, and interactio­ns with other medication­s.

AGING AND CANNABIS: As we age, our bodies change and drugs affect us differentl­y. Researcher­s are still learning about the effects of cannabis on older adults.

TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR: This booklet has a list of questions to ask yourself and your health care profession­al about using cannabis.

DOSING AND YOUR HEALTH CONDITION: There are no formal rules for cannabis dosing. The general advice on finding out how you react to cannabis is “Start low and go slow.”

Be Wise is available in 16 languages (English, French, Farsi, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil and Vietnamese) as well as in Braille, e-pub form, and podcasts.

“Healthy aging begins with being informed and educated on health topics,” says Clark. “The booklet was created to specifical­ly answer questions relating to older adults and cannabis. We encourage

anyone who is interested to contact us to receive their free copy of the booklet.”

Ready to learn more about cannabis and older adults? Request your

free copy of the Be Wise booklet. Visit www.activeagin­ to download a digital copy or fill out the order form for a free mailed copy, or call 1-800-549-9799 and leave a voicemail with your full mailing address to request a free mailed copy.

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 ?? PHOTO CREDIT: Stock photo. Posed by models. ?? Be Wise is a free 55-page booklet designed to help older adults understand the facts about cannabis before they decide whether or not it’s right for them.
PHOTO CREDIT: Stock photo. Posed by models. Be Wise is a free 55-page booklet designed to help older adults understand the facts about cannabis before they decide whether or not it’s right for them.
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