The Pilot News

Older cannabis users are ending up in the ER


The internet seems convinced that Abraham Lincoln once said: “Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp and playing my Hohner harmonica.” However, the date often given for that declaratio­n is two years before Hohner started making harmonicas. Seems the quote is dishonest about Honest Abe.

What is true, however, is that many of our country’s esteemed elders -- today -- are smoking weed and it’s landing them in the ER. The UC San Diego School of Medicine reports that in California from 2005 to 2019, there was a 1,808% increase in the number of cannabis-related trips to the emergency department among folks aged 65 and older. In 2005, there were 366; in 2019, 12,167.

What accounts for this cannabis-catastroph­e? Older folks don’t realize that today’s pot isn’t the same substance that they smoked in the old days -- it’s much stronger. Also, with age, they’re more likely affected by the psychoacti­ve elements and they’re more vulnerable when their reaction time is slowed. As a consequenc­e, the ER is seeing physical injuries and falls; psychosis, delirium and paranoia; interactio­n with prescripti­on medication­s; and an acute worsening of cardiovasc­ular and pulmonary conditions.

So, if you must use cannabis, consider edibles -- you get a gentler, smoke-free dose. Remember, start low and slow (don’t gobble them) and lock ‘em up so youngsters don’t sample the “candy” and wind up in the ER. You can also opt for pain-relieving CBD creams -- they’re highly effective for many stresses, strains, pains and sleep problems.

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